For the first three innings, Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy cruised like a missile. The traditionally inefficient lefty was nevertheless extraordinarily efficient, and finished the third frame having only released 30 total pitches. Through those three innings, he notched a trio of strikeouts and didn’t walk anyone.
But Duffy ran into some serious trouble in the fourth inning, where the stacked Red Sox lineup made some loud noise. There are 137 total batters in the American League with at least 60 plate appearances. These are the rankings (by wRC+) of the four best hitters in the Red Sox lineup today:
- Mookie Betts - 2nd
- Xander Bogaerts - 4th
- JD Martinez - 16th
- Hanley Ramirez - 39th
That’s three guys at or above the 88th percentile of offensive production, and another guy in the 72nd percentile. This is patently unfair.
Oh, and all are right-handed hitters, who particularly crush left-handed pitching. Let’s just say that, yeah, the red-hot Red Sox eventually got to Duffy.
The Red Sox are squaring Duffy up. pic.twitter.com/GOPPCXVl26— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) May 2, 2018
By the time the dust of the fourth inninng settled, the Royals’ three-run lead had vanished completely. Boston got on base five times in the inning, scoring three. The RBIs came off the bat of home runs by Betts and Martinez, both of which were absolute no-doubters.
For their part, the Royals offense struck early and kept constant pressure on opposing starter Drew Pomeranz. Whit Merrifield scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Salvador Perez, after being moved to third base by a Jorge Soler double. And in the second inning, a Drew Butera opposite-field double scored Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon to give the Royals their 3-0 lead that would last until the fourth inning.
The Red Sox grabbed their lead in the fifth inning, off another Betts home run. They extended it in the seventh inning with, yep, yet another Betts home run. That one will stay on Duffy’s stat sheet, but Ned Yost is the real culprit: Duffy had thrown 100 pitches by that point, Brad Keller was ready in the bullpen, and everyone in the park knew that Betts owned Duffy’s number. You’re just straight asking for it at that point.
The Royals sliced the lead to one run thanks to the idiocy of Fenway’s layout—Cheslor Cuthbert hit a nice opposite-field line drive that would be a double in pretty much every single park, but 335 feet was enough for a solo home run around the Pesky Pole in right field.
But it wasn’t enough. The Alex Gordon/Craig Kimbrel rematch from last night ended in Kimbrel’s favor, and Kimbrel proceeded to churn through the rest of the inning like a good closer facing a 90-loss Kansas City Royals team would.
The Royals return to Kansas City for another day game tomorrow, starting a series against the Detroit Tigers. They will play a four-game set at Kauffman Stadium before a day off on Monday and a road trip through Baltimore and Cleveland for the rest of the week.
Kansas City’s record falls to 8-22.