A series of unusual occurrences, as well as offensive struggles that we’ve seen all too often in this
franchise’s history season, handed the Boston Red Sox a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park tonight.
It was the MJ Melendez show over the first few innings. Leading off the second, he hit a no-doubt shot out to deep right that put Kansas City up 1-0. Leading off the fourth, he went the other way and hit an extremely Fenway Park home run: a flyball 30 degrees off the bat that just barely cleared the monster. So barely, in fact, that it was initially called a double before turning into a homer upon review. Melendez wasn’t alone here, however, as Triston Casas also got in on the fun with a solo dinger in the second. There wasn’t much of anything going on offensively aside from those two as Nick Pivetta and Jordan Lyles were both fairly sharp early on. Not to say there was nothing else interesting; Kyle Isbel broke a scoreboard light with a flyball to left field, which was probably the only thing preventing Matt Duffy from scoring on the play as it went for a ground-rule double. Neither would score in that inning. We also saw a nice strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out double play in the third.
Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Masataka Yoshida hit a pop-up to shallow right that Michael Massey lost in the twilight, allowing the ball to drop in. It was ruled a double, making it one of many scoring decisions related to missed pop-ups that really bothers me. Shouldn’t that be an E4? Anyway, Rafael Devers would reach on a walk and, with two outs, Alex Verdugo hit a liner to left. Melendez almost made a fantastic diving play to end the inning, but it clanked out of the palm of his glove, allowing two runs to score. In a continuation of unusual stuff, Luis Urías lined out to end the inning, but was then given first base on catcher’s interference. Reese McGuire promptly singled up the middle to give Boston a 4-2 lead, but then got into a pickle that at least allowed Kansas City to record the third out.
The Royals had the makings of a rally in the fifth when Maikel Garcia and Bobby Witt Jr each reached with one out, but then Garcia got himself picked off second. Shortly after, Pivetta had pitchcom issues, which led to Ryan Lefebvre questioning why they couldn’t just switch to regular signs given there wasn’t a runner on second. It didn’t matter anyway as Massey stared at a meatball of a curve for a backwards K that ended the inning. Pablo Reyes led off the bottom of the frame with a single, after which we wouldn’t see a baserunner for a while as Lyles and the Red Sox bullpen did their jobs.
Garcia broke the dry spell with a single to lead off the eighth that extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He was promptly erased on a double play. That proved to be pivotal as Massey followed that up with a double down the right field line. It likely wouldn’t have scored Garcia from first, but it would have at least given Kansas City second and third with one out. Alas, Salvador Perez flew out on the first pitch to end the inning.
Things briefly got interesting in the top of the ninth when Kenley Jansen came in to close out the game. Melendez struck out to lead off the inning, but Freddy Fermin had no trouble with Kenley’s cutter, depositing the first one he saw over the monster to make it a one-run game. Edward Olivares pinch hit for Drew Waters and battled for a walk, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. Dairon Blanco was brought in to pinch-run. He tried to steal with the count 1-1. This would generally be a good call: Jansen hasn’t historically controlled the running game well and McGuire hasn’t thrown out many basestealers this season. They got it done on this occasion with a very nice throw-and-tag to nail Blanco at second. Duffy then went 4-3 to end the game.
Both losses in this series were very frustrating, but as they say, you make your own luck. The Royals ran into outs on the bases, failed to cash in on scoring opportunities, and didn’t make big pitches and defensive plays when they needed to. You can only win so many games when you do all of the above. The loss drops Kansas City to 37-79. They will go for the series split in the rare getaway night game tomorrow in Boston.
Jordan Lyles: 8.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR
Nick Pivetta: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HR
MJ Melendez: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Alex Verdugo: 1-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI