The Red Sox snapped their eight-game losing streak on Monday in the first game of this series against the Royals. They started a new losing streak on Tuesday. This was a bad all-around game, with both the offense and the pitching sharing the blame. On one side, the Red Sox lineup got some chances against Jakob Junis and the Royals pitching staff but consistently squandered said chances. On the other side, Andrew Cashner got off to a nice start before unraveling over the second half of his outing. This team just does not have it, and I hate it!
Earlier today I wrote a little bit about the Red Sox offense, which has ostensibly been the one good part of the team this year and the reason they are still technically in the playoff chase. Despite all of their positives, they have still been frustrating to watch at times despite a lot of the numbers suggesting they’ve actually been good in all situations. The issue is that they have failed to get big hits in big situations, instead settling at times for singles and walks with runners on base but too rarely getting the game-opening swing that carried them so often in 2018.
I bring that up because, well, it was happening again against Royals starter Jakob Junis on Tuesday. For reasons I can’t quite explain I’ve always kind of liked Junis more than most, but even I can admit the Red Sox made Kansas City’s righty look much better and much more effective than they should have. Boston did consistently get runners on base against him, and often runners in scoring position, but once again they were lacking the big hit to really build some momentum at the plate.
In the bottom half of the first, the Red Sox did get a two-out single from J.D. Martinez, one day removed from being scratched with some back issues. He was back in action and got on base, but for some reason he was sent running on a two-strike count. It seemed like a strange decision for a slow runner with back issues. He was thrown out, though there was some confusion over whether it was a caught stealing or if Andrew Benintendi was called out on strikes. Either way, the inning ended without a run.
The Red Sox got themselves a better chance in the second, with Christian Vázquez and Mitch Moreland smacking back-to-back singles with one out to put two on. The former would move up to third on a deep fly ball from Michael Chavis, but he wouldn’t make it any further.
In the following frame, they once again got a runner in scoring position with one out when Rafael Devers ripped a double. Martinez flew out to push them to within one out of squandering another chance, but Andrew Benintendi made sure the situation wasn’t totally wasted when he got a flare to drop into right field for an RBI. That gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. They had a chance to add on after another single from Brock Holt put runners on the corners, but like I said above this team is just lacking the big swing when they need it.
On the other side, Andrew Cashner got into a groove early in this game. After Rick Porcello got himself into form on Monday, Cashner was looking to do the same. The night looked like it was off to a tough start when Whit Merrifield doubled off the Monster. However, his foot came off the bag after he got in safely and upon review he was ruled out. That was a big break, and Cashner used that to get through the first three innings facing the minimum.
Once the order came around for a second time, the wheels started to fall off in a hurry. In the top half of the fourth, he got a couple of quick outs before the inning extended with a walk to Hunter Dozier. Cashner would live to regret that when Jorge Soler followed it up with a massive homer over everything in left field. Just like that, it was a 2-1 lead for the Royals.
They would add to their lead in the fifth thanks to another long ball. This time it was Ryan O’Hearn, who worked a ten pitch at bat as Cashner just couldn’t put him away. On the tenth pitch he tried to finish him off with a changeup but left it up in the zone. O’Hearn hit an absolute laser out to right field for a solo shot to make it 3-1.
It was the sixth, though, where the wheels totally fell off for Cashner. The righty started things off by giving up a single to Merrifield and then immediately throwing a wild pitch to allow the runner to advance up to second. A couple batters later, Dozier drove him home with a base hit. That brought Soler up to the plate again, and he repeated his last at bat. That is to say he drove a homer out to left field, and suddenly Kansas City was up by five. Cashner would last one more batter before exiting the game and Josh Taylor had to finish off the inning.
While Cashner was slowly, and then quickly, imploding, the offense was continuing to do a whole lot of nothing against Junis. They did get yet another scoring chance against him in the fourth when Michael Chavis ripped a one-out single and Mookie Betts drew a two-out walk, but once again no runs were scored. Junis finished his outing with two perfect innings in the fifth and sixth.
After Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh, the Red Sox were into the Royals bullpen and had nine outs to score at least five runs. They went down in order in the seventh.
Marcus Walden kept the deficit at five with a scoreless eighth, and the Red Sox finally got something going in the bottom of the inning. Martinez came out to lead off the inning and he hit a laser into the right field corner for a ground-rule double. After a couple of outs it appeared the Red Sox would squander yet another chance, but Vázquez came through with an RBI double to bring Boston to within four. For some reason Mitch Moreland hit for himself against the left-handed Richard Lovelady after this despite Sam Travis and Xander Bogaerts both sitting on the bench. He struck out looking to leave another runner in scoring position and end the inning.
Darwinzon Hernandez came on and struck out the side in the ninth, giving the offense one more chance to score at least four in the bottom of the ninth. They were going up against Royals closer Ian Kennedy. Boston would go down in order, and it was another loss.
The Red Sox and Royals finish off their series on Wednesday with it tied at one game apiece. The rubber match will feature Eduardo Rodriguez for the Red Sox and Glenn Sparkman for the Kansas City. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.