I’m not really sure where to start in this game. It was mostly a mess for the Red Sox besides some strong offense, which certainly isn’t what we’re used to with this team. On the plus side, Eduardo Nuñez continues to show off a strong stick with his new team and he smashed two home runs — both into the Monster Seats — in big spots to keep Boston in this game before putting the ball in play leading to the winning run. Christian Vazquez had a good game too with a couple of huge extra-base hits early in the contest. Sandy Leon provided huge defense and got a big hit in the final inning. Even Xander Bogaerts, who had some negatives we’ll get to in a second, reached base three times. So, it wasn’t all bad.
On the flip side, Eduardo Rodriguez just didn’t give the Red Sox the kind of start they needed. To be fair, the southpaw did keep runs off the board for most of the game, and the biggest swing the Royals managed off him was extremely lucky. Still, while he probably didn’t deserve to give up some of those runs in that specific instance, he deserved to give up more runs earlier in the outing. Rodriguez just had no efficiency in this one and the Royals were able to foul off far too many pitches. The lefty had no problem getting to two strikes but he just couldn’t put the opponent away, and that led to a lackluster four-inning game.
That, in turn, caused the Red Sox to turn to some of the weaker links in their bullpen and the results weren’t great. Of course, that wasn’t entirely on the bullpen. The defense was not exactly strong behind them. Then, there were a couple of boneheaded plays on the bases by Bogaerts. It wasn’t all great, is what I’m saying.
For all of the bad, though, they came through with a win. This is a resilient team and once again they came through when it mattered, even if it was wildly frustrating for much of the ride.
The Red Sox started the scoring in the second and they led the frame off with a single and a walk. Mitch Moreland flew out to deep center field in the next at bat, advancing Jackie Bradley to third. It ended up being two outs, though, because Bogaerts inexplicably tried to advance to second on the play. He was, of course, thrown out easily. Vazquez came through with an RBI triple in the next at bat, which was great, but it should have resulted in two runs.
After the Red Sox added another run in the third on the first of Nuñez’ two home runs, the Royals came up in the fourth looking for some runs of their own. To this point, they’d gotten multiple runners on against Rodriguez in each of the first three innings but couldn’t knock anyone in. This time around, they got runners to the corners with one down and finally they got an RBI single to cut Boston’s lead in half. After Rodriguez got a strikeout for the second out, he induced a weak fly ball out to right field from Lorenzo Cain. Unfortunately, he placed it just right and hit it to the first row right next to Pesky’s Pole in right field for a 302-foot home run. I haven’t gotten this confirmed, but I have to believe it was the shortest possible home run in the league. Fenway giveth, Fenway taketh away.
Fortunately, the Red Sox offense was up to the task in this game and they came right back in the bottom half of the inning. This time, it started with an infield single from Bogaerts, but once again he was cut down on a bad baserunning play. He tried to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt, but it didn’t bounce nearly far enough for him to make it safely. That was followed up with a two-out walk from Moreland and a double from Vazquez, who would be knocked in on a clutch base hit from Devers. So, the score was tied but again we were left wondering how many runs they could have scored had Bogaerts just stayed at first.
The Red Sox would take the lead in the bottom of the fifth on Nuñez’ second dinger of the night, and they’d add another insurance run before the inning closed. It was at this point, with a 6-4 lead, that the Red Sox pooped their pants.
Fernando Abad came on to start the top of the sixth after getting through the fifth. He got a ground ball to start the inning, but Devers made his first error in the majors by making a bad throw that would get by Moreland and out of play. With a runner on second, Abad allowed a walk and that was it for him. Blaine Boyer took over and immediately threw a ball that Vazquez would allow to get by him for a passed ball to advance the runner to third. After this, Whit Merrifield hit a little chopper towards Devers that the rookie couldn’t bare hand, scoring a run. From here, it was wild pitch, single and walk to load the bases with the score tied up at six and still no outs. That brought Robby Scott in, and he induced a ground ball from Eric Hosmer. Nuñez opted to try to get the out at second and made a bad throw that resulted in zero outs and a Royals lead. Kansas City would get one more on a sacrifice fly before Scott mercifully ended things with a double play.
The Red Sox would make some noise in the seventh when they were still trailing 8-6 as they started the frame with consecutive walks. A wild pitch moved Andrew Benintendi over to third, but Ramirez stayed at first. That was followed with a deep fly ball to right field to score one run, and if Ramirez had advanced to second on the wild pitch he’d have almost certainly have been on third. Instead, he remained on first. It wouldn’t end up mattering as Bogaerts popped out and Moreland struck out to end the inning.
With the score still 8-7 in the eighth, the Red Sox once again were able to get a rally going. This time it was Vazquez coming through with yet another big hit, this time a single. That was followed by a wild pitch to put pinch runner Brock Holt on second and a single from Devers moved Holt over to third. Betts then came through with a big swing and drove a fly ball to deep center field. It wasn’t deep enough to leave the yard, but it did score a run. Unfortunately, that was all that would score and we’d head to the ninth with a tie game.
The Red Sox had a chance to walk it off in the ninth with two runners in scoring position but Moreland was left in against a southpaw and couldn’t come through with a hit. Assuming Dustin Pedroia was unavailable, Chris Young would have been the only option for John Farrell and if he didn’t come through they’d be left without a first baseman. It was a tough call, but I understand Farrell sticking with Moreland.
After Matt Barnes tossed a scoreless tenth, the Red Sox were once again looking to walk things off in the bottom half. This time, they started things with a double from Sandy Leon. Devers came up next in an obvious bunt situation, but likely due to his lack of experience with bunts they let him swing away. The rookie struck out, and after intentionally walking Betts the Royals were left to face Nunez with two on and one out. A wild pitch moved both runners to scoring position, and Nuñez hit a ground ball to shortstop. Alcides Escobar made the diving stop and got the out at first, but then Leon broke for him. The throw easily beat him, but the Red Sox catcher nimbly avoided the tag and got in for the win. It was....absurd.
This is getting long, so I’ll leave it at this: All Hail Sandy Leon and Eduardo Nuñez. The Red Sox will go for a series victory tomorrow with Drew Pomeranz on the bump.