Boston’s Kiké Hernández, right, runs the bases after hitting a leadoff home run in the first inning against the New York Yankees on Sunday. Hernández hit another leadoff homer Monday against Kansas City. Steven Senne/Associated Press

BOSTON — For the second straight day Monday, Kiké Hernández got the Red Sox on the scoreboard to start the home half of the first inning.

Hernández, who launched a homer on the first pitch he saw from Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on Sunday afternoon, blasted his second straight leadoff homer off Royals lefty Danny Duffy on Tuesday night. He has now homered to start games on three occasions this year.

“That’s what we envisioned,” said Manager Alex Cora. “It’s instant offense. We know he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. … You see the two swings – they were short, in the zone, he put a good swing on it.”

Hernández has been showing signs of life at the plate. In his last nine games, the utility man is hitting .300 (9 for 30) with three homers, four doubles and a 1.128 OPS.

“Hopefully, he can continue doing that,” Cora said. “It’s not about him hitting the ball out of the ballpark but we know he can do damage in that spot.”

MONDAY’S WIN WAS Boston’s fourth straight, following a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees, over the weekend. Monday was Boston’s major league-leading 26th come-from-behind win.


The Red Sox are now a season-high 17 games above .500, and in first place in the AL East by one game over Tampa Bay.

ALL-STAR VOTING: On Sunday, four Red Sox – Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo – were announced as finalists to start the All-Star Game at their respective positions. Bogaerts and Devers were the leading vote-getters at their positions in Phase 1 of voting. Cora said the early voting meant a lot.

“Hopefully the four of them and then, obviously on the pitching-side, we can get a few there, too,” he said. “It’s a great recognition, especially with the two guys, Raffy and Xander, to be recognized as one of the best at your position. They’re not underrated or unpopular. That’s a good feeling.”

NESN RATINGS: Sox fans tuned in en masse for the weekend series against the Yankees, according to NESN. The two games the network aired delivered the highest ratings in the household and adult (25-54) demographics since Opening Day last season (July 24).

INJURY NEWS: Two injured players – Christian Arroyo and Kevin Plawecki – should be back soon, Cora said. Both of them hit on the field before Monday’s game with Plawecki catching Chris Sale’s live batting practice session Saturday afternoon.

Plawecki (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day IL on June 22 and Arroyo (right knee contusion) joined him two days later. Plawecki can return as soon as Friday in Oakland and Arroyo can be activated Sunday. Barring a surprise, it sounds like both players will be back when their 10-day stints expire.

“It seems like this is going to be something short and they should be with us sooner rather than later,” Cora said.

BULLISH BULLPEN: Boston’s bullpen played a key role in Monday’s win, as Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor and Matt Barnes combined to hold the Royals scoreless and allow one combined hit in 3 1/3 innings. Taylor’s appearance was his 23rd straight scoreless outing, and Sawamura has not allowed a run in 14 of his last 17 outings.

“We think we’ve got capable guys,” Cora said. “We’ll keep riding them. We’ll keep switching them, flip-flopping them and keeping them fresh. We’re in a good spot with the bullpen. We’re very versatile. Different types of pitches. We attack guys differently on a daily basis.”

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