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Game 123: Pulling Out The Win In KC

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KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 18:  Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox pumps his fist as he celebrates their 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 18, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 18: Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox pumps his fist as he celebrates their 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 18, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Nice to get back in the win column, huh? The Red Sox didn't exactly light up the scoreboard in Kansas City against the Royals on Thursday night, but they did just well enough. Dustin Pedroia went 3-4 and knocked in three of the four Sox runs and Josh Beckett threw seven solid innings. Ryan Lavarnway made his major league debut, going 0-4.

A few notes:

  • Beckett didn't have his best stuff. His curveball had some bite on it but his change up was all over the place. He did manage to throw lots of strikes (70%; 77 out of 110). The home run he gave up to Alex Gordon came on a change up. Oddly, it didn't look initially like Gordon did much more than fly out to left field and Carl Crawford's reaction seemed to confirm that.
  • Speaking of Crawford... oofah. I was listening to an interview on WEEI with Peter Gammons who said Crawford was constantly behind on pitches. Today that was certainly the case last night as Crawford struck out twice in four at-bats. He did manage a nice line drive single to lead off the fourth on a curveball that was almost in the dirt. He really followed the ball down and barreled it up just off the dirt. 
  • A night after the third three hit night in a row, the Sox managed nine hits. The same amount they totaled in the Tampa series. Three of the hits were of the extra base variety as well.
  • I'm reminded of President Nixon's final press conference before leaving the California governor's office. He said, "Gentlemen, you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore." This is funny for several reasons. First of all, it's sexist. Secondly, he called himself "Dick." My point: We're all going to miss having Jonathan Papelbon to kick around next season when he's gone to close in Detroit or Philadelphia or East Timor or where ever they give him four years and $65 million. So enjoy, Red Sox fans, because when the eighth inning rolls around and the Sox have a one run lead it doesn't get any more automatic than Bard to Papelbon. For the record, Thursday night they faced seven batters, gave up one single, struck out three and didn't let anyone hit the ball in the air (Butler's single off Bard was a line drive, so maybe one depending on how you define it).
  • Not much to report as far as Ryan Lavarnway's debut. He was the DH and went 0-4 with one K. 
  • Jed Lowrie made a very nice barehanded pick up of Jeff Francoeur's slow roller up the third base line and threw to first just nabbing the semi-speedy Frenchy. These moments are few and far between so we should note it for posterity when Lowrie makes a play like that.
  • Six Sox starters had one hit. The three who don't fit that description were Pedroia (3), Lavarnway (0) and Adrian Gonzalez (0). Gonzalez is slugging .333 this August. A few days ago Terry Francona mentioned that Gonzalez might be losing power due to a neck strain. I'm not in favor of putting the whole team on the DL just to rest up for the playoffs, but .333? Maybe A-Gon needs a week or two off to get his neck right. But with Youkilis on the DL and Papi likely headed there, the Sox may want Gonzalez to tough it out a bit. Rosters will expand on September 1st so it's likely then that the regulars will get a bit of a break.

MLB's box score and video are here. WEEI's game recap is here. The OTM Series Preview is here.

Back at 'em with Game Two of the series tomorrow at 8:10pm EST.