'What we learned': Red Sox' 8-3 win over Royals
BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 8-3 win over the Kansas City Royals . . .
1) Dustin Pedroia is back to being and All-Star caliber second baseman
He’s had multiple 10-game hitting streaks, made great defensive plays throughout the season and missed the Major League record of going 12-for-12 straight in his final at-bat Saturday.
David Ortiz made a point earlier in the season that Pedroia was due for a big year given he was finally healthy.
He was pretty spot-on.
Pedroia’s now moved up to the leadoff role, batting .320 on the season and already knocked in 58 runs -- a mark already better than those in the previous two seasons.
And most notable was his shocking 11-for-11 run, that everyone in the dugout knew about -- even Pedroia who heard something on the television heading the bathroom.
“That’s special. Whenever you’re name is up there with guys in black and white photos, that’s pretty special,” Price said on Pedroia’s streak. “He’s a gamer. He’s a very special teammate and everybody in here definitely cherishes what he brings to this team every single day. We’re all happy for him.”
Pedroia continues to be a model of consistency, hitting .294 or better every month -- including his season-best .398 (37-for-93) in August.
2) Sandy Leon is coming down to Earth
Saturday night was only the third time this season Leon was held hitless in back-to-back starts in 2016.
In fact, Leon is 2-for-21, with an RBI and a double, in his last five starts.
Every player seems to go through a slump at some point during the season. It’s almost impossible not to given the length of the season. Some longer than others, and five games is by no means groundbreaking.
However, given Leon’s caught lightning in a bottle, and batted over .360 up until his 0-for-5 night Friday -- dropping to .349 after Saturday’s win -- it’s hard to ignore.
Far from a cause for concern, but definitely something worth tracking, particularly since Leon has already played more games at the Major League level this year than he has in any other -- with 33 games still left to go.
Not to mention the playoffs.
3) Jackie Bradley Jr. is still best suited in the ninth spot in the lineup
Although he’s had big games elsewhere in the lineup, Bradley’s only seen consistent production batting eighth and ninth in the lineup.
Most notably No. 9, where he improved to 34-for-94 (.362) Saturday night after going 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a run.
As much as Boston’s offense is built on the firepower from its first five hitters, they’ve relied heavily on the bottom of the order, too. Particularly the eighth and ninth spots, where they’ve had big contributions from Sandy Leon, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr.
With Benintendi sidelined for at least a few weeks -- hopefully that’s it -- that creates a hole at the bottom of the lineup. Chris Young might be able to help out, but he’s not consistent enough, and the revolving door at third base can’t be trusted at all.
With Leon carrying the hotter bat over the past few weeks, he became the better option to protect Hanley Ramirez.
JBJ will see more fastballs batting ninth that he would anywhere else in the order, which should help spark the fire in his bat everyone saw earlier in the season.