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Game 113 Preview: Red Sox vs. Royals

This is a MUST WIN game, just like yesterday was and like tomorrow will be!

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox, for better or for worse, are back. Gone are the embarrassments of the "beer and fried chicken" clubhouse of Terry Francona and the ridiculous failure of Bobby Valentine. New manager John Farrell has resurrected the franchise and put Boston back in first place with the best record in the league.

Boston has vaulted back to prominence primarily through improving the offense. They lead the league in runs scored and on-base percentage, and are second in slugging percentage. As a team, they've drawn 135 more walks than the Royals. They've gotten an on-base percentage of .320 or higher from every position on the field except third base. The Royals have only gotten that from first base, left field, and designated hitter. The Red Sox are only sixth in home runs, but lead the league in doubles and triples. Boston has hit 71 more doubles than the Royals, despite the Royals playing in double-friendly Kauffman Stadium.

New General Manager Ben Cherington added a lot of new faces to the lineup like Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, and Mike Napoli. They've all responded with an OPS+ of 100 or better, and every hitter in the lineup is hitting league average or better except third baseman Brock Holt (Brock Holt!) On the other hand, only David Ortiz has an OPS+ over 120, (he's hitting .332/.412/.587 with 21 home runs at age 37), so there aren't a whole lot of hitters who strike absolute fear in your heart. If Bruce Chen can make quick work of the lineup, then who among us can't?

The Red Sox pitching has been very mediocre. They are barely better than league average in runs allowed per game and while they are second in strikeouts they third worst in walks allowed. The bullpen has been ravaged by injuries with Andrew Miller, Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, Franklin Morales, Alex Wilson, and Matt Thornton all sitting on the disabled list. The back of the pen is pretty solid with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and LOOGY Craig Breslow, but it gets pretty thin after that, as Billy Butler and Justin Maxwell can attest to.

Who’s Hot for the Royals

Justin Maxwell

Hitting .417/.500/.917 with 2 HR in 14 PAs since being acquired.

Eric Hosmer

Hitting .357/.378/.543 with 3 HR over his last 16 games.

Mike Moustakas

Hitting .313/.356/.552 with 4 HR over his last 18 games.

Who’s Not for the Royals

Alex Gordon

Hitting .167/.235/.294 over his last 25 games.

Alcides Escobar

Hitting .203/.210/.215 over his last 20 games.

Luis Mendoza

12 runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings since being demoted to the bullpen.

Who’s Hot for the Red Sox

Stephen Drew

Hitting .341/.433/.602 with 4 HR over his last 25 games.

Jonny Gomes

Hitting .293/.3379/.587 with 5 HR over his last 27 games.

Shane Victorino

Hitting .372/.417/.605 with 2 HR in his last 10 games.

Who’s Not for the Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia

Hitting .194/.295/.313 over his last 17 games.

Mike Napoli

Hitting .130/.273/.174 over his last 13 games.

Brock Holt

Just three hits in his last 25 at-bats.

The Royals are 3-1 against Boston this year, and a win tonight clinches their first season series win over the Red Sox since 2006. TRUST THE PROCESS.