KANSAS CITY -- Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning after Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.'s dive turned a single by Andrew Butera into a triple, and the Royals held on for a 4-2 victory on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.With
KANSAS CITY -- Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning after Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.'s dive turned a single by Andrew Butera into a triple, and the Royals held on for a 4-2 victory on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
With one out in the seventh in a 2-2 game, Butera sent a liner to left-center that Bradley dived for and missed, and Butera hustled to third as the ball rolled to the wall. The catch probability on the play was just four percent -- Bradley would have had to have traveled 59 feet in 3.5 seconds.
"I tried to take the most direct route I could to it," said Bradley. "I tried to make a play on it, and it was barely just out of my reach."
Merrifield battled Red Sox reliever Blaine Boyer through a seven-pitch at-bat before singling through a drawn-in infield. Two batters later, Lorenzo Cain singled in Merrifield, who had gone to second on a groundout.
Boyer started Merrifield off with primarily four-seam fastballs before trying to finish him off with two-seamers.
"Anytime I'm in a situation like that, I'm just trying to drive the ball to center to score the run," Merrifield said. "He gave me some pitches to hit early and I kept fouling them off. Then he came back with some two-seamers inside and I was able to find a hole."
Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "Whit had a phenomenal at-bat. He just grinded and was bound and determined to get that run home. My level of confidence was that he'd find a way to score the run, via sacrifice fly or whatever it took."
The Red Sox fell a half-game behind the idle Yankees atop the American League East. The Royals have won eight of nine and are 3 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.
Royals right-hander Jason Hammel tossed his fourth straight quality start, going seven innings while giving up seven hits and two runs while walking none and striking out four.
• Mechanical tweak paying off for Hammel
Red Sox rookie right-hander Hector Velazquez made his second career start and held the Royals to two runs over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up five hits, walked none and struck out three.
"He gave us everything we could have hoped for tonight," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That was a very good job on his part."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Taking a dive: The Royals' rally in the seventh inning was launched when Butera sent a liner toward left-center field with one out. Bradley Jr. laid out with a full dive but missed the ball, which rolled to the wall as Butera took third with a triple. Merrifield then grounded a single to left past a drawn-in infield and the Royals led, 3-2.
"I've always said a few people have to fall down for me to get a triple, and they did," Butera said of his fifth career triple. "I got the good part of the bat on it. I was a little surprised he dived for it, but honestly, I thought he caught it. Then I heard [first-base coach] Rusty [Kuntz] yell, 'Three!'" More >
Rally thwarted: The Red Sox put a scare into Royals reliever Mike Minor in the eighth inning. With one out, Hanley Ramirez and Bradley, who also hit a two-run home run in the fourth, singled. With two out, pinch-hitter Chris Young walked. But Minor induced catcher Christian Vazquez into a slow roller to third where Cheslor Cuthbert made a strong throw to first to get him.
"We once again created a number of opportunities," said Farrell. "A big one in the eighth, a number of men left on base."
"That's my boy. We played together for quite some time in college. It's always pretty cool seeing guys up in the big league level and playing against each other, especially since we know each other's family. So it's very unique." -- Bradley, on playing his old college teammate Merrifield
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer put the Royals up, 2-0, in the third when he belted his eighth home run of the season on a 3-2 sinker from Velazquez. Statcast™ projected it would have traveled 446 feet to center. That tied for Hosmer's third longest home run since Statcast™ started in 2015.
"That was just a bomb that Hos hit," Yost said. "That's a long way to center field."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Royals challenged a safe call at first base in the third inning on an attempted pickoff by Hammel of Xander Bogaerts. After a long look -- three minutes, three seconds -- the call on the field stood.
Red Sox: Lefty ace Chris Sale takes the mound for the Red Sox on Wednesday night after suffering a tough-luck 1-0 loss at Philadelphia last time out. Having spent his entire career in the American League Central before this season, Sale is more than familiar with Kauffman Stadium, going 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA at the Royals' home park. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.
Royals: Left-hander Matt Strahm (2-3, 3.67 ERA) will make his second career start in Game 2 of the series Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Strahm went five innings in his first start last Thursday against the Angels and gave up three hits and one unearned run.
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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.