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KANSAS CITY Youth Chris Herndon Jersey , Mo. — The Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals, two diametrically opposite clubs, meet in a three-game series beginning Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
To say they are polar extremes would not be an exaggeration.
The Red Sox own the best record in the majors at 59-29. They have won eight of their past 10 and 10 of their past 13. They are 30 games over .500 for the first since they ended the 2013 season 32 games above.
Boston leads the American League with 463 runs and has outscored its opponents by 130 runs.
On the flip side, the Royals have lost six straight, 18 of 21 and 25 of 30. They are 25-61 and are 36 games below .500 for the first time since ending the 2006 season 62-100.
Kansas City ranks last in the American League with 297 runs and has been outscored by 167 runs.
“We didn’t have opportunities to manufacture runs,” manager Ned Yost told reporters after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. “We had opportunities with runners in scoring position that we couldn’t capitalize on. And that’s been a major problem for us all year long.”
The Red Sox are 31-17 on the road. The Royals have lost 12 of their last 13 games at Kauffman Stadium and their 11-32 home record is the worst in the majors.
The Royals have not scored more than four runs in 25 of their last 26 games. They have failed to collect double-figure hits in 25 of their last 26 games and are batting .191 with 55 runs in that stretch.
And who do the Royals face in the opener of this series?
None other than dominant left-hander Chris Sale, who leads the American League with 164 strikeouts and is averaging 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents own a .179 batting average versus Sale (8-4, 2.41 ERA).
“He looks like the best pitcher in the big leagues right now,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
Sale, who ranks among the league leaders in overall ERA http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-martavis-bryant-jersey , owns a 2.32 road ERA and a 2.45 night ERA. He enters the game having not allowed a run in his past 15 innings. Sale is 3-1 with a 1.03 ERA in his past five starts after striking out and allowing a first-inning single to Giancarlo Stanton in seven dominant innings in an 11-0 win at Yankee Stadium over the New York Yankees on Saturday.
“He was outstanding again,” Cora said. “Fastball command and off-speed pitches, it was a great performance.”
Sale is 10-10 with a 2.92 ERA in 33 career appearances, 22 starts, against Kansas City. He held the Royals to two runs and five hits while walking two and striking out six over seven innings in a no-decision on May 1 at Fenway Park. Sale is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in his last four starts in Kansas City, striking out 34 and walking five.
The Royals will counter with right-hander Jason Hammel, who is 2-10 with a 5.56 ERA. He is tied for the AL lead in losses and has yielded 15 runs in his last two starts. He is 0-5 with a 4.33 ERA in seven home starts this season.
Against the Red Sox, Hammel is 3-4 with a 5.13 ERA in 16 career appearances, nine of them starts. He dropped a 10-6 decision on April 30 to Boston, allowing eight runs on eight hits Ronald Jones II Jersey Elite , including a pair of home runs, and three walks over 4 2/3 innings.
While Sale was the AL Pitcher of the Month for June, Hammel went 0-5 with a 6.43 ERA in six starts last month after ending May with back-to-back victories.
Hammel’s biggest challenge will be Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. They rank 1-2 in the majors in slugging percentage with Betts at .669 and Martinez .642.
Betts has 21 home runs and a .338 batting average. Martinez is hitting .327 with a major league-best 26 home runs, which is more than any Boston player hit in 2017.
Betts also hit three homers at Fenway Park on May 2 and went 4-for-4 in that game.
For the second time in four seasons, the Seattle Seahawks have started training camp with a star safety absent because of his contract situation.
This one may not end as amicably as the last time.
In an offseason already filled with big name departures, the Seahawks opened camp Thursday without safety Earl Thomas, who is trying to force the hand of the only franchise he’s played for in his attempt to get a new contract.
Thomas’ current deal runs through the end of the upcoming season. He announced his intentions in June to skip any team activities until Seattle addressed his long-term security and he held true to that statement by skipping the mandatory minicamp and not showing up for the Seahawks’ first practice.
While Thomas’ teammates seemed to understand what he is doing, coach Pete Carroll seemed less than thrilled to be facing another prolonged holdout.
”We always expected him to be here. That’s kind of how it is. He should be here and he’s not,” Carroll said. ”It’s really about the guys that are here and we’re going to keep moving and grooving and putting it together. It’s unfortunate.”
If this feels familiar, it’s because the Seahawks went down this road before the start of the 2015 season with safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor unexpectedly decided to hold out as he also sought a new contract even with three years remaining on his deal. Seattle never budged from its position Kevin Hogan Jersey Redskins , causing a contrite Chancellor to finally report after the second week of the regular season.
Chancellor eventually got a new contract before the 2017 season.
Thomas may not be as fortunate, especially considering some of his antics late last season indicating he wanted out of Seattle, and one social media post in particular where he asked the Seahawks to trade him if he wasn’t getting a new contract.
”We’re expecting him back. He’s under contract,” Carroll said.
Seattle’s training camp start had a surreal feeling. Carroll was still running around in charge, while Russell Wilson was leading the offense and Bobby Wagner, the defense.
But so many of the familiar faces that defined Seattle’s roster for the past half-decade were gone. Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham all have new addresses. Chancellor is unlikely to play again due to a neck injury and had to be placed on the reserve/PUP list Thursday as a procedural move due to his contract. Cliff Avril, another standout in recent seasons, was on the sideline as a sports talk radio co-host with his own neck injury clouding his chances of ever playing again.
Hanging over it all is uncertainty about Thomas, the last player still on Seattle’s roster from the first draft class under Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson were both getting time at free safety with Thomas absent. McDougald is expected to be the replacement for Chancellor at strong safety Authentic Bo Scarbrough Jersey , but has played both safety positions in the past. Thompson is entering his second season after being a fourth-round pick out of Colorado a year ago.
”Right now we can’t focus on him. He’s not here. He has our support but we’ve got to focus on who is here and make sure those guys get right and make sure we’re doing everything we can for the guys that are here,” Wagner said. ”I’ve voiced my support. I understand this is a tough business. Like I said before, it’s not a business that is necessarily in favor of the players … but we’ve got to focus on what we’ve got right now.”
NOTES: Seattle has injury concerns on the defensive line from the start. DE Dion Jordan has an undisclosed injury and is starting camp on the physically unable to perform list after a career that’s been filled with knee issues. DE Frank Clark had surgery on his wrist over the summer and will be limited at the start of camp. Defensive line is one of the big questions for Seattle after losing Avril, Bennett and Sheldon Richardson in the offseason. … TE Ed Dickson is starting camp on the non-football injury list due to a groin injury suffered during his offseason workouts, Carroll said. … Seattle released DL Malik McDowell and CB DeAndre Elliott. McDowell, a 2017 second-round pick, never played a down for the team following an ATV accident. McDowell was released with a non-football injury designation, while Elliott failed his physical. … Seattle claimed TE Kyle Carter off waivers from the New York Giants.