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Red Sox 4, Royals 7: Fifth inning meltdown brings Sox back to Earth

Believe it or not, people were saying good things about the Red Sox around the fourth inning. Then it all went to hell.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It was all going so well. The Red Sox had won two games, and found themselves up 4-1 on the Royals halfway through Saturday night's game. The Sox were playing with energy. Mookie Betts had led off the game with a homer, then later scored from second on a ground out. Pablo Sandoval was diving into first, even if unsuccessfully, and Rick Porcello was doing just fine, with one run allowed in four frames.

Half an inning later, Pablo Sandoval had sprained his ankle, Blake Swihart had sprained his foot, and it was 6-4 to the Royals. You can't make this stuff up. Only the Red Sox.

Swihart had hurt his foot on a Fielder's choice at third back in the top of the fifth inning, to be fair, but it was incredible just how quickly the team's brief moment of positivity was wiped out.

The disaster inning for the Sox started with a hit batter, and continued with a relatively unassuming single up the middle. Another ground ball past a diving Brock Holt cut the lead to 4-2, and that's when we really got a sign that this was going to be one of those innings. What would have been strike one to Mike Moustakas was instead waved off as Porcello was charged with a balk--for what, nobody seems particularly sure even now--moving Omar Infante to third and allowing him to score on Moustakas' sacrifice fly.

That was the first sign of classic Red Sox tragicomedy. The second came immediately after, when Lorenzo Cain hit a ground ball to third. Sandoval grabbed it, made a diving attempt to catch Escobar straying from the bag, then double clutched and threw awkwardly, wide of first. What had started as a high-effort play turned into an error, and left Sandoval on the ground with an injured ankle. Kendrys Morales ended up homering to right two batters later in an at bat that wouldn't have happened if the Sox had recorded either the out at third or at first, and so it was that the Sox went from 4-1 up to 6-4 down.

And just like that, the old Red Sox were back. Quiet at the plate, watching the Royals proceed calmly to victory. The only incident of note coming when David Ortiz was ejected in the seventh. In Bruce Dreckman's defense, David Ortiz did not kowtow to him nor sacrifice a goat as required in the rule books and, yes, flipped his bat after singling. In David Ortiz' defense, Dreckman made two bad calls, reacted to Ortiz' complaints, and the proceeded to restart the conflict after the designated hitter proceeded to first, completing his plan to steal the spotlight that those damn selfish players keep trying to hog for themselves.

Just another frustrating element in a frustrating game in a frustrating season. Just when you think 2015 might relent for a few days and give us all a breather, it drags us right back to the terrible reality, kicking and screaming.