By MyFM's Jake Archer - What an ugly series in Kansas City for the Red Sox. They had finally moved into first place but they let it go by dropping two of three to a Royals team that while feisty, isn’t that good. Here is how it all went down.
On Monday, the Sox turned to Hector Velasquez in place of Brian Johnson. Velasquez hadn’t been good in his one start with Boston this year, but had been great in Pawtucket and good in a relief appearance for the Sox. He would be facing off with mediocre Royals starter Jason Hammel who has actually been improving as of late.
In the third inning, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer opened the scoring with a two run home run to centerfield. It was the only two runs that Velasquez would allow during his 5.1 innings of work. The Sox would answer back in the fourth with a two run jack of their own, off of the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. Those were the only two runs that Hammel, or the Royals for that matter, would allow that night.
This is where I scratch my head. Velasquez was going pretty well in the sixth inning when John Farrell pulled him with only 77 pitches thrown and on out already recorded in the frame. The manager turned it over to his bullpen and Fernando Abad who walked a batter and allowed a bunt single to put men on first and second. Manager John would then turn to Blaine Boyer out of the ‘pen who got two outs to get out of a possibly sticky situation.
However, in the next inning Boyer and the Sox couldn’t get the job done. After getting the first out of the inning, Boyer allowed a triple to deep center when Jackie Bradley laid out and missed the catch. The next batter singled to drive in the go-ahead run and after a ground out, would score on another single to pad the lead. The Royals had taken advantage of the Sox mistakes and grabbed a two run lead late. The Sox would threaten in the eighth and ninth before ultimately falling in the series opener, 4-2.
In the middle game of the set on Tuesday night, Sox ace Chris Sale would take the mound looking to bounce back after a very tough luck loss last week in Philadelphia. He’d be opposed by Royals pitcher Matt Strahm. Despite allowing a second inning homer to Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, Sale would not be denied in this game. He was going to find a way to win regardless of how many runs the offense gave him in support. Luckily, they came to play for him.
In the third inning, the Sox tied it up on a Mookie Betts RBI single to drive in Deven Marrero. The fourth inning saw Boston break it open though, as they scored four times on doubles by Sam Travis and Sandy Leon and a sacrifice fly by Deven Marrero. In the sixth, they’d add three more runs on a Chris Young double and a Xander Bogaerts single to make it 8-1.
Meanwhile, Sale was cruising and at one point had retired 19 straight batters. In the ninth, he went back out to try to finish it off but gave up two runs on a homer by Jorge Bonifacio. Sale was fuming mad and did not want to leave the game, but John Farrell went to mound to remove him and bring in Abad. Abad got the Royals to go down and the Sox took the win.
On Wednesday afternoon the rubber game featured Drew Pomeranz going against Ian Kennedy. Pomeranz continued to pitch well as he only allowed two runs on six hits over 6.1 innings of work. The runs came on an RBI GIDP in the second and a sacrifice fly in the third. Other than that though, Pomeranz was fairly efficient and threw only 93 pitches before leaving the game. Kennedy, on the other hand, gave up four runs on three hits in 4.2 innings. A couple Royals errors, one by Kennedy himself, did not help his cause on the mound.
In the fourth inning, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts went back to back with solo homeruns. It was Benintendi’s 10th of the year and the longest of his major league career. Bogaerts has seemed to have found his power stroke as he’s on a little bit of a home run tear lately. In the fifth, Mookie Betts drove in a run on a sac-fly and Deven Marrero scored on an error to make it 4-2 Sox.
In the eighth though, things got messy for Boston. Matt Barnes, who is supposed to be our setup man, came on to pitch the inning. I haven’t been a fan of Barnes at all in his career here and don’t understand why people seem to think he is good. He could not get one out in the inning as he could barely throw a strike. Barnes walked the first two batters he faced before Farrell pulled the plug on him and brought in Robby Scott. Scott then proceeded to walk Eric Hosmer to load the bases for Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez. Perez would then unload the bases with a grand slam to put the Royals out in front 6-4. The Sox would lose the game by that same score and drop the series.
They now return home for a series with the Los Angeles Angels starting tomorrow night. The Sox will send Rick Porcello to the hill against someone named Alex Meyer. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm but tune in early because the Sox will be honoring David Ortiz and retiring his number before the game.