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Red Sox 3, Royals 5: Stumbling in Kansas City

The Red Sox just couldn’t get it going at the plate.

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Friday’s game in Kansas City, the Red Sox had been winners in each of their last three games with the offense doing a lot of the heavy lifting. They’ve been able to pick up the pitching a lot in the month of June, but the favor was not returned this time around. It wasn’t a terrible day for the bats as they managed 11 hits and drew a couple of walks on top of that, but they were always one hit shy, if they weren’t biting themselves on the base paths to begin with. Nick Pivetta couldn’t support them with the great outing they needed, and the end result was the win streak being snapped.

The Red Sox have been playing a lot of high-scoring games of late. The rotation has not been getting the job done through the last few turns, as has been widely publicized, and the offense has successfully been able to keep pace with their counterparts to make for some slugfest. With Nick Pivetta going for the Red Sox coming off his worst start of the season and the Royals pitching just struggling in general of late as well, this had all the makings of a high-scoring game with offense early and often.

Instead, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the first couple of innings. On the Red Sox side of things, they managed a single and nothing out in the first and then got two on in the second before Marwin Gonzalez grounded into a double play to end the inning and a potential rally.

Boston Red Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Over on the other side, Pivetta did get into a little bit of trouble early when he allowed each of the first two batters he faced to reach base, but then as Red Sox pitchers have done so often of late he escaped the jam without a run coming across. He followed that up by allowing just a two-out single in the second to keep the score knotted at zeroes heading into the third.

Here, the offenses did start to come alive a bit more and take advantage of their opportunities. For the Red Sox, they were facing a new pitcher, with Kyle Zimmer being done after two innings as an opener. Kris Bubic came in for Kansas City, and Boston welcomed him with back-to-back singles. The second was a very soft line drive, which allowed Danny Santana to come around from first to third. He’d then come home in the next at-bat on another base hit, this one from Alex Verdugo.

They certainly had a chance for more with runners still on the corners and nobody out, but Christian Arroyo made a big mistake on the bases. On a ground ball to third base, Verdugo was cut down at second, but rather than throw to first Nicky Lopez noticed Arroyo stutter step a bit at third base on contact before breaking for the plate. That little pause was enough for Lopez to make the heads-up play at the plate and get the final out of the inning.

Sure enough, the Red Sox would quickly regret not getting more in that inning. Pivetta struggled to start the bottom of the third, issuing a one-out walk followed by a base hit to put two on. He came back with a big strikeout after that, getting Jorge Soler on a high fastball. He tried to do the same with Adalberto Mondesi, but he was ready for it. Mondesi hit an absolute moonshot out to right field, and just like that Kansas City was up by two.

After both sides went down relatively quietly in the fourth, the Red Sox got back into it in the fifth. They had their first two batters reach, and then Arroyo came up and got into a 3-0 count. He then got robbed of ball four twice in a row, before eventually swinging at a pitch off the plate and grounding into a fielder’s choice. The missed calls seemed to change the momentum of the inning, and while Boston did get one on an RBI single from J.D. Martinez, it still felt like a missed opportunity.

It was still a one-run ballgame as we entered the bottom of the fifth, where Matt Andriese would come in for Boston after Pivetta’s night came to an end with five innings and three runs under his belt. The righty did get a couple of quick outs, but he couldn’t get Lopez in the nine-hole to end the inning. He’d keep things alive with a single, and then Whit Merrifield smacked a double down the right-field line. Lopez came all the way around, and it was a 4-2 game.

The Red Sox offense failed to answer yet again in the seventh, and then Kansas City immediately got back to work against Andriese in the bottom of the inning. It was the red-hot Salvador Perez leading off the inning, and he went the other way for a solo shot just over the right-field wall, making it a three-run lead for the Royals.

Heading into the eighth, Boston’s bats finally started to show a little bit more life, trying to avoid a too-little-too-late situation. Following a quick first out, Rafael Devers stepped to the dish and got an 0-1 slider. It wasn’t a terrible pitch as it did break a bit below the zone, but Devers was still able to barrel it and send it over the wall in center field to bring his team back to within two. After Vázquez kept the inning alive with a two-out single, Boston had the tying run coming to the plate, but couldn’t add any more in the inning.

After Yacksel Ríos tossed a scoreless eighth that included a successful pick-off, Boston had one more chance at the plate. They couldn’t get it done, going down in order to finish off the game, with Arroyo being tossed for arguing balls and strikes for good measure. The 5-3 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 42-28.

The Red Sox and Royals pick things up again on Saturday for the second game of this series. Boston will have Martín Pérez on the mound with Brad Keller going on the other side. First pitch is set for 4:10 PM ET.


Courtesy of FanGraphs