Mason: How one four-man meeting has Chris Sale looking like an ace again

AP Photo/Julio CortezChris Sale, Dana LeVangie, and the two catchers decided they needed a new plan of attack after Sale was hit hard again two weeks ago.  

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals came into the night hoping to snap a four-game losing slide that started over the weekend in Texas, but the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox refused to cooperate with that desire.

Instead, the Red Sox battered a pitching staff that had given up five runs or more in each of its previous four games. The Red Sox pounded out 11 hits and handed the Royals their third shutout of the year as the Royals fell 8-0 in front of an announced 15,523 at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night.

Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale dominated in his 330th career appearance (220th start) to earn his first win since May 3. Sale struck out 12 in nine innings. He didn’t walk a batter, and held the Royals to just three hits. He needed just 102 pitches to pick up his third career shutout, his first since April 15, 2016.

The Royals have been mired in an offensive funk of late. They’d averaged just two runs per game during their four-game losing slide. In a five-game spanning leading into Wednesday night, Royals hitters had gone .186 with runners in scoring position. They didn’t have an at-bat with a runner in scoring position against Sale.

Meanwhile Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis’s steady improvement over his past three starts quickly faded into a memory on Wednesday night.

Junis gave up two first-inning runs, the first on a ground ball back to the mound with runners on the corners and one out. Junis decided to go to second for the double play. However, the runner at third never fully retreated to the bag, and he scored on the play as the batter beat out the throw to first.

Brock Holt’s single on the ground through the right side of the infield drove in the second run.

The Red Sox finished off Junis’ day by scoring four runs in the fifth inning. Rafael Devers’ RBI double started the scoring, and a three-run double by Jackie Bradley Jr. gave the Red Sox and Sale more than enough runs to work as the Royals trailed 6-0 through five innings.

The Red Sox increased their lead to eight runs in the seventh on a Devers solo home run and a sacrifice fly by Sandy Leon. By the top of the eighth, Royals manager Ned Yost removed starters Whit Merrifield and Alex Gordon from the lineup.

Junis, who’d allowed two earned runs in his most recent start, gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits, three walks and five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He also struck out five in his shortest outing since he went 4 1/3 in a loss to Philadelphia at Kauffman Stadium on May 12.

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