The Red Sox fell 8-6 to the Royals Sunday night thanks to a 4-run ninth inning against Junichi Tazawa.
When a team loses a game like this, with victory snatched away and replaced so suddenly by defeat, never really stopping at any middle ground, it stings. It stings no matter how lost the season may be, and no matter how long ago it was lost.
It shouldn't, really. Effectively, had the game ended after eight innings in a 6-4 Boston win, the difference for Red Sox fans should be one less negative data point for Junichi Tazawa, and that's about it. 56-68 and 57-67 are not substantially different. None of what happened in the last inning erases the positive aspects of the first eight.
Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr., with a rare opportunity to play alongside (or, indeed, opposite) one another in the outfield combined for five hits in seven at bats, with Bradley producing two doubles. Bradley also managed to delay the first run of the ninth by gunning down Omar Infante at home on a bizarre play which saw him first misjudge a ball, then recover to get the ball home as Infante tried to touch them all, with Hanigan applying the tag after the Kansas City second baseman slid short of the plate and essentially wound up stuck in the mud. Pablo Sandoval was also good, turning in a two-hit game with some solid defense.
Less impressive, unfortunately, was Mookie Betts, who had an 0-for-5 day at the plate combined with a bad throw to third as he tried to save an ugly play from Josh Rutledge at second by throwing out Eric Hosmer, instead letting him score all the way from first. It was that sort of play which made the scoreboard uglier for Eduardo Rodriguez than it probably should have been, with the Red Sox lefty seeing four runs go up while allowing only two earned in his six innings of work. He only recorded the one strikeout, but that's against no walks, while the Royals spent the entire game pounding the ball into the ground against him.
Still, if Betts struggled, and David Ortiz joined him in the 0-for category (albeit with a sacrifice fly), the strong performances from potential key players in 2016 should make up for it. Today should be positive!
But it doesn't feel that way. It's damn hard to when, even saved from a leadoff triple, Junichi Tazawa proceeded to allow four singles around a line drive snagged by Xander Bogaerts to tie the game, and then a walk of Kendrys Morales and double to Mike Moustakas to put the Royals ahead by two. It was an inning that just wouldn't end until the lead was not only gone, but in Kansas City hands. And it's an inning which matters more to the Royals than the Red Sox, yes.
But that doesn't mean it doesn't sting all the same.