We could talk about how Jason Hammel was allowed to pitch into the seventh inning, today, despite how every statistic suggests that that is a terrible idea.
But that didn’t end up hurting them.
But that, also, didn’t end up hurting them.
We could talk about how 2 of the Royals’ top 3 power threats were left on the bench because they were lefties and the Red Sox’ starter, Drew Pomeranz, is also a lefty. Despite the fact that he has actually struggled much more against lefties than righties, this year.
But, you guessed it, that didn’t end up hurting them.
We could even talk about Rafael Devers hitting his first Fenway home run He led off the fifth with it, bouncing it off the top of the green monster.
But, yeah, that didn’t hurt them, either.
The real story of this game seemed like it would be one of missed opportunities. The Royals had the lead-off runner reach in 4 of the first 7 innings. That led to just one run. That includes the time Lorenzo Cain hit a lead-off triple in the sixth inning and was stranded at third.
Speaking of runners stranded in scoring position, the Royals made unproductive outs with runners in scoring position eleven different times, including when Salvador Perez hit into a double play in the fourth inning with runners at first and second. Whit Merrifield also hit into a double play following a lead-off single to kill a rally in its infancy.
The thing about the Royals during their winning streak, however, was that they never seemed to run out of opportunities. Even when they lost last night they had so, so many opportunities. The Red Sox just ended up with more of them. You may have noticed I cut off the story of today’s missed opportunities in the seventh inning. There’s a reason for that.
In the eighth inning Lorenzo Cain led off for the third time, today. For the third time he reached base, this time by way of Xander Bogaerts error. Predictably Eric Hosmer hit a groundball that could have been a double-play ball but instead hit off of the pitcher, Matt Barnes, and into no-person’s-land where it was fielded by Mitch Moreland with no opportunity to make an out. Fortunately Salvador Perez came to the plate - it was fortunate because in his last at-bat he struck out on an attempted check swing and almost argued his way into the clubhouse. Salvy squeaked a single under the diving Moreland to load the bases.
Up came Alcides Escobar, inexplicably allowed to bat in the six hole today. Of course it worked out for Ned; before this inning Escobar was the only batter to get a hit with a runner in scoring position. He was also the third batter to get a hit with runners in scoring position. This time under the diving Eduardo Nunez to drive in a pair and tie the game. Mike Moustakas was standing on deck in place of Ramon Torres, Alex Gordon was at the plate. Red Sox manager John Farrel called upon his left-handed reliever, Robby Scott, to try to escape the situation. Scott left a fastball in the middle part of the outside of the plate and Alex belted it into right center field for a 2-RBI triple to give the Royals the lead.
That’s when opportunities started getting missed again. With a lead Ned Yost declined to go for the throat. Moose was summoned back to the dug out and Ramon Torres was allowed to flail helplessly and strike out. Drew Butera grounded out to a drawn-in infield. Farrell went to his bullpen again and out came Heath Hembree to face to Whit Merrifield, Whit roped a liner into right center but it was caught by Mookie Betts to end the inning. The second time today the Royals had a runner at third with no outs and failed to bring him home.
Brandon Maurer pitched a scoreless eighth. It was Maurer not because Joakim Soria is bad but because he’s just pitched too often recently and Maurer has closing experience with the Padres.
Kelvin Herrera made things interesting with 2 walks and a single allowed in the innth but closed out the win for the Royals.
So the Royals ultimately bounced back from last night’s loss to win their third straight series. They’ll head to Baltimore to start a three game series there, Baltimore has been struggling lately and the Royals swept them in three games in K-City earlier this season. The matchup on paper appears to be quite the mismatch as Royals’ ace Danny Duffy will face Baltimore’s Ubaldo “We seriously don’t have anyone better than this?” Jiminez.