KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s too late to save the season, right? The Red Sox are nine games out of first place and still have a pitching staff with more leaks than an NFL investigation.
Or maybe there’s enough momentum building to at least make the summer interesting.
A 13-2 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon planted a few seeds of hope. The Sox had 16 hits — 13 for extra bases — to continue what has been a productive month at the plate.
The Sox took two of three against the best team in the American League, scoring 24 runs. They have won four of six overall.
“We have more than half of the season left,” David Ortiz said. “Things can change a lot. You’ve got to stay consistent with what you do. You don’t check out just because the first half of the season didn’t go the way you expected.
“We have a lot of games left and anything can happen. In our division everybody is pretty close. You get a half-month, things can change.”
The 13 runs were a season high for the Sox. The 13 extra-base hits were the most in the majors this season. The Sox had eight doubles, two triples, and three home runs. Their first nine hits were for extra bases.
Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia were 9 for 15 at the top of the order with five doubles, two triples, a home run, seven runs scored, and six RBIs.
Betts was 3 for 5 with a double, triple, and home run. Needing a single for the cycle in the ninth inning, he popped out to center field.
“It’s a good time now and [I’m] just going to ride it,” Betts said.
Betts is 20 for 36 in a nine-game hitting streak with 9 extra-base hits, 9 runs, and 8 RBIs. A .234 hitter on June 10, he’s up to .277.
“He can beat out an infield base hit. He can put down a bunt for a base hit. Drive the ball out of the ballpark. It’s a pretty special talent. You see the instincts on the field starting to flourish each and every game he’s playing,” manager John Farrell said.
Holt, now established as a starter, was 3 for 5 with two doubles, a triple, and two RBIs. He is 24 for 62 in the last 16 games with 11 extra-base hits and 11 walks.
“He’s huge. He’s Brock. No matter where he is in the lineup, he’s going to hit and make something happen,” Betts said.
Pedroia, back after missing two days with a knee injury, had two doubles, a single, and two RBIs.
The Red Sox hit .241 with a .684 OPS in the first two months of the season and averaged 3.8 runs. Through 20 games in June, they are hitting .294 with an .809 OPS and averaging 4.7 runs.
On June 2, principal owner John Henry held what amounted to an emergency news conference at Fenway Park to discuss how poorly the team was playing. One of his comments that day was the Sox needed to hit more doubles.
They have had 47 doubles since, the most in the majors.
Despite the jump in offense, the Sox are 9-11 this month because of poor pitching. But Wade Miley (7-6) pitched six shutout innings for the win Sunday, allowing five hits.
Since his dugout showdown with Farrell on June 11, Miley has thrown 12⅓ innings in two winning starts and allowed two runs.
“We kept scoring the whole game. Definitely makes it a lot easier to go out there and just try and throw strikes and get us back in the dugout,” Miley said.
Kansas City starter Chris Young (6-3) allowed seven runs on seven hits in 4⅔ innings. His earned run average increased from 1.98 to 2.83.
Hanley Ramirez had a home run in the second inning and Ortiz one in the fourth. The Sox scored five times in the fifth inning. Betts had a two-run homer and Xander Bogaerts a three-run double in that inning. The rout was on from there.
“The extra-base ability up and down the lineup is starting to come through a little bit more regularly,” Farrell said. “We’re swinging the bat with more authority and certainly liking the capability this team has.
“You see a lot of close pitches being taken. We’re not expanding the strike zone. The ability to build an inning is becoming more evident.”
The Sox are 8-2 against Kansas City the last two years, outscoring the Royals by 24 runs.
Every game is not going to be a joy ride like Sunday’s was. But Betts believes this is the offense the Sox should have had all along.
“We wanted to see it and now we know [we] can do it,” he said. “I think from here on out this will be what will [be] expected of ourselves,” he said.
Said Ortiz: “It was something I knew was going to happen. It was a matter of time.”