With the possibility of a blockbuster trade completely altering the look of the Boston Red Sox, the team attempts to focus on the task at hand as it entertains the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Reports began to surface on Friday that the Red Sox were negotiating with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a massive move that could send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the West Coast. For Boston, the transaction is more than likely meant to provide the club with some financial flexibility moving forward, seeing as how they are essentially out of the playoff race as they sit 13 1/2 games out of contention in the American League East.
If the deal comes to fruition, the Red Sox would likely be receiving right- handed pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa as well as first baseman James Loney among other players.
While there is certainly plenty of potential wheeling-and-dealing taking place off the field for the Red Sox, between the foul lines the team finally managed to snap a four-game slide yesterday with a 4-3 victory over Kansas City. Pedro Ciriaco and David Ortiz both knocked in a pair of runs for Boston, while Mauro Gomez filled in at first base for Gonzalez, who was a late scratch.
"That was one of the signs that something was going down," said Ortiz, who was activated from the disabled list before the game. "When you get to be taken out of the lineup it's for protection. But there's nothing done yet, we've got to wait until [Saturday]."
Boston starter Jon Lester picked up his eighth win of the campaign as he allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, striking out six over seven innings of work. Andrew Bailey came in during the eighth inning and threw a total of just 15 pitches to register his first save of the season.
Lester, who is 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA in the month of August, is finally seeing his season begin to turn around.
"Now I'm just winning, and winning cures everything," Lester said. "I've been feeling good with the adjustments we've made and how we've made adjustments as far as my pitch selection and coming after guys. I feel like I was headed in the right direction five, six starts ago. I've got to keep plugging away."
As for the Royals, a team which is 14 games under .500 yet somehow still in third place in the AL Central, starter Bruce Chen gave up three earned runs on eight hits through six innings, fanning five, be he failed to factor into the decision. Instead it was Kelvin Herrera who was handed the loss, his second of the season, as he permitted one run on two hits and recorded just a single out after coming in for Chen.
Eric Hosmer delivered his 12th home run of the season for Kansas City, a solo shot, while Alex Gordon added a pair of hits and knocked in a run as well.
Seeking his third win in as many decisions, Jeremy Guthrie heads to the mound for the Royals this evening. The right-hander has been beaten up quite a bit this season and is currently seven games under .500 even though his last three outings have been rather strong.
Since winning two in a row against the likes of Chicago and Oakland, Guthrie appeared against the same White Sox club on Sunday and allowed just a pair of runs on two hits and a walk, yet neither runs were earned so his ERA actually dropped as he failed to record the decision in what turned into a 5-2 home win for the club. Guthrie struck out five in 7 2/3 innings of action.
A product of Stanford, Guthrie is making his 20th all-time appearance against Boston but has just a 3-8 mark to go with a 4.50 ERA in previous outings.
As for the Red Sox, with Beckett gone they will now start right-hander Aaron Cook in his place tonight. Cook, though, has dropped two straight starts and six of his last seven decisions.
Cook was last in action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday, yielding five runs -- four earned -- on 11 hits over five innings of a 5-3 setback. He fell to 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA on the season, including a 6.25 ERA over his past six outings and the difference versus the Angels turned out to be a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo in the fifth inning.
"I felt like I was making pitches, they were just finding holes with those singles," Cook said. "They were able to string together a few of those in the holes and then I left one pitch up on the 3-2 to Trumbo and he hit it about as hard as you can hit a baseball."
The 33-year-old Cook has faced the Royals twice before in his career, going 0-1 while giving up seven earned runs over 9 2/3 innings.
With the victory last night the Red Sox have knotted the season series with Kansas City at two games apiece.