Sandy Leon avoided a tag at the plate from Drew Butera in the bottom of the tenth to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win, snapping a nine-game winning streak for the Royals. It was an excruciatingly long game filled with errors, walks, sloppy play, and poor baserunning that took over four hours to complete.
The Royals looked like they would break things open early off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, but they stranded five runners in the first two innings. The Red Sox took advantage, scoring a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI triple by Christian Vazquez, although it could have been a two-run score had Xander Bogaerts not been thrown out trying to inexplicably advance to second base on a fly ball earlier in the inning.
Trevor Cahill left a pitch up that Eduardo Nunez popped over the Green Monster in left for a solo home run to make it 2-0 Red Sox in the third. The Royals would get those runs back and more in the fourth. Brandon Moss and Alex Gordon singled, and Whit Merrifield drove Moss home to make it 2-1. Then Lorenzo Cain poked a ball down the right field line that had a 2% chance of being a hit, according to Statcast, but in Fenway Park it snuck just inside the “Pesky Pole” for a huge three-run home run to make it 4-2 Royals.
But Cahill could not hold onto the lead for long. Again, it was Vazquez who did the damage with a gapper that Jorge Bonifacio let up on, allowing it to fall for a double to drive home a run. And again, it could have been a two-run score had Bogaerts not been thrown out on the bases just before that trying to advance on a wild pitch, only to be gunned down by Salvador Perez. Rookie Rafael Devers followed up with an RBI single to tie the game.
Bogaerts atoned for his earlier baserunning miscues with an RBI single in the sixth, and when Mike Moustakas booted a Mitch Moreland groundball, another run scored to make it 6-4 Red Sox. The Royals battled back, however, as Whit Merrifield reached on an infield single, his fourth hit of the game, to score Alcides Escobar. Jorge Bonifacio drove home Alex Gordon to tie the game.
A walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases for Hosmer, who dribbled a grounder to second off lefty reliever Robby Scott. The throw from Eduardo Nunez to second for a double play was high, causing Bogaerts to leap and miss the bag, allowing a run to score with no outs recorded. A Salvador Perez sacrifice fly extended the lead to 8-6.
Ryan Buchter struggled with his command in the seventh, walking the first two hitters. Buchter and Salvador Perez seemed to have their signals missed, causing a passed ball that allowed the runners to move up. Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit a sacrifice fly to make it a one-run game.
In the eighth, the Red Sox tied it off Joakim Soria. Vazquez and Devers each singled, and a wild pitch advanced the runners. Mookie Betts lofted a sacrifice fly to score pinch-runner Brock Holt to make it 8-8. Ned Yost gambled, pulling Salvador Perez from the game in the ninth after a single in favor of pinch-runner Terrance Gore. But Gore was caught stealing, and pulling Salvador Perez from the game in favor of Drew Butera would end up costing the Royals.
Butera had some issues in the ninth that nearly cost the Royals, allowing Andrew Benintendi to reach first base on a strikeout when the pitch got away from him, then allowing runners to advance on another wild pitch. But the Royals escaped unscathed, at least, until the tenth.
Sandy Leon led off the tenth with a double off the top of the Green Monster against Mike Minor, in for his second inning of work. He advanced to third on another wild pitch with Butera behind the plate. Alcides Escobar speared a sharp grounder from Eduardo Nunez, and threw to first from his knees to get the runner, but Leon broke towards home. A good throw from Eric Hosmer seemed to nail Leon at home, but Drew Butera was up the line and could not reach back to tag the runner, who craftily avoided the tag to win the game.
The Royals snap a long winning streak, but still have a chance to take a road series against a very good Red Sox team. There were plenty of missed opportunities and sloppy play tonight, something the Royals will need to rectify by tomorrow. The Indians are getting hot now too, so now is not the time for the Royals to nurse their losses.