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Sale slices, Strahm stinks, and Royals lose 8-3 to Red Sox

It went about as one might expect.

Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Sometimes, baseball is wildly, utterly, incomprehensibly unpredictable. Once, Randy Johnson threw a pitch—a simple, core event to the game of baseball that literally happens hundreds of thousands of times in the United States across the varying pro, amateur, and academic ranks—and proceeded to hit a bird that flew in front of the plate.

Do you know the names Matt Cain, Dallas Braden, or Phillip Humber? How about Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, or Clayton Kershaw? Well, the first three all threw one of the 23 perfect games in the 130+ year Major League baseball history, and the latter three have a combined zero perfect games to their names.

Remember when an upstart Kansas City Royals team came back from a playoff elimination game down by four runs in the eighth inning to tie it up in the ninth, gave the lead back in the 12th, and still won? And remember when that team swept through the American League Divisional and Championship Series against better clubs?

Ah, the beauty of the unpredictability of baseball. Part of that beauty comes from something really simple, which is that a lot of baseball is awfully predictable. Tonight was unfortunately one of those nights for the Royals. Kansas City sent Matt Strahm, a second-year player making his second ever MLB start, to the mound against a potent Boston Red Sox lineup. Boston countered by bringing Chris Sale, the best starting pitcher in the entire American League, to bear against a still below-average Royals offense. The result was a rather predictable 8-3 contest, Boston coming out the victors.

In three innings, Strahm struggled, his pitch count rising alongside the numbers dotting the Red Sox’ side of the scoreboard. After a relatively clean first two innings, Strahm bled a run in the third off an RBI single by Mookie Betts. Then things just burned after he got through the inning. Strahm came out for the fourth, but was chased away after recording no outs. Strahm allowed four consecutive hits to the Red Sox, which resulted in three more runs. That was enough for the lefty, whose pitch count had reached the 70s already. Strahm was charged with five runs on seven hits, a walk, and four strikeouts in three innings.

Boston scored additional runs off Kevin McCarthy, this year’s version of the I-29 Human Shuttle, who will almost assuredly be sent back to AAA Omaha at some point this week. Travis Wood pitched two scoreless innings, slowly working his ERA from ‘apocalyptical’ to ‘disastrous.’

Sale was, as one might expect, fantastic. The lanky lefty chucked 8.1 innings, allowing three earned runs, only allowing five baserunners, and striking out 10. Mike Moustakas belted his 19th home run and 100th career dinger off Sale in the second inning, but that was the only runs of note. Kansas City scraped together a few additional runs as a tired Sale attempted for a complete game, but those were the textbook definition of ‘garbage time’ runs—the Royals were down 8-1 going into the ninth, and their additional two merely bumped the score to 8-3, where it would stay as Wood (yes, you read that correctly) grounded into a double play to end the game.

Kansas City stands 34-36, 3.5 games out from the first place Cleveland Indians and 2.0 games back from the Tampa Bay Rays in the second Wild Card spot.