The Red Sox have a big week ahead of them with series against both the Rays and Yankees coming up. They did not go into those series with the momentum they were seeking, dropping two of three to the Royals. The series finale on Sunday was particularly ugly, with the Red Sox losing in just about every way possible. Nathan Eovaldi had a slog of an afternoon after a quick first inning, struggling all day to miss bats. He was also let down by his defense, even getting into the action with a costly miscue of his own. And the offense just couldn’t get anything going against Royals starter Mike Minor. And to top it all off, they also lost two players to injury, with Kevin Plawecki tweaking a hamstring and Christian Arroyo suffering a bone bruise on a collision with Kiké Hernández. It was not a great day, is what I’m saying.
As the Red Sox were looking to take this series in Kansas City, they looked like the better team for the day in the earlier going. They caught a break right off the bat when Christian Arroyo led off the game with a pop up that Royals third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez lost in the sun and dropped. Boston couldn’t take advantage of that situation, but it was an early baserunner and they’d make up for it in the following inning.
They quickly moved on to the second, too, because Nathan Eovaldi started the game masterfully, needing only six pitches to get through the bottom half of the first. Boston did make two quick outs to start off the second, but as they’ve done all year they got some clutch two-out offense. Hunter Renfroe was able to extend the inning with a four-pitch walk, bringing Kiké Hernández to the plate. The utility man has obviously struggled this year and has been mostly moved out of the leadoff spot, but he made some noise here on Sunday. It started in the second when a breaking ball stayed middle-in, and Hernández sent a moonshot to left field. Just like that, it was a 2-0 game.
That was when the momentum was going to shift, though. After the uber-efficient first inning, Eovaldi saw a bit more trouble in the second. Adalberto Mondesi kicked things off with a leadoff double, and then moved over to third on a one-out single. He may have had a chance to score, but was scared off by Renroe’s arm in right field. That looked like a big decision for the Red Sox after Eovaldi got the second out of the inning, but then he was let down by his defense. On a ground ball to first base, Bobby Dalbec tried to rush things and booted it, allowing the runner to reach safely and the Royals first run to cross the plate.
After Boston got a two-out triple from J.D. Martinez — his second triple in the last week! — but nothing else in the third, Eovaldi would find himself in another slog of an inning. Things started off with a base hit, but then it looked like Carlos Santana hit a perfect double-play ball back to the mound. Eovaldi couldn’t get a clean handle on it, settling for just the one out at first base.
Again, the poor defense would prove costly. Salvador Perez immediately followed the should-be double play with a base hit, and Whit Merrifield came around to score and tie the game up at two. On top of that, Hernández’s throw home was a bit off the mark and Kevin Plawecki appeared to have tweaked a hamstring going to get it. He stayed in the game at that point, but would exit in the next half-inning. The inning continued to be troublesome, too, with Mondesi smacking another double, and then a walk and a single leading to two more runs and a 4-2 Kansas City lead, with Eovaldi up over 70 pitches after three innings.
The offense again failed to score in the fourth with Christian Vázquez (who hit for Plawecki) couldn’t get a runner home from third with two outs, and Eovaldi again found some trouble in the fourth. The Royals got a leadoff single from Nicky Lopez, who then stole second and got to third on a one-out ground out, but Eovaldi was able to avoid damage here, keeping the deficit at two.
It was still a 4-2 game heading into the bottom of the fifth, and Darwinzon Hernandez was in the game for Boston. He largely got the job done in the inning, allowing just a double, but the double caused different kinds of problems. It came on a blooper into shallow center field, after which both Christian Arroyo and Hernández were chasing. They ended up running into each other, and Arroyo needed help walking off with what looked like a knee injury. We’ll have more on his status as we learn more in the next couple days, but he left this game with Marwin Gonzalez taking his spot.
Royals started Mike Minor continued to roll through a perfect inning in the sixth, bringing Hernandez back out for the sixth. He did get a quick first out, but then after giving up a base hit (on a play that probably could have been made by Gonzalez at second), Yacksel Ríos was on the mound for Boston. Merrifield was the first batter he saw, and Ríos hung a slider middle-in that left the yard for a two-run shot, and now the Red Sox had four runs to make up. The righty would continue to get into trouble with a couple of weakly hit balls, including a weak ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded to make it a 7-2 game.
It was now an uphill battle with the Red Sox offense desperate for a little momentum, but they recorded two quick outs. They finally got a little bit going after that with back-to-back two-out singles to finally knock Minor out of the game, but they left both runners on.
After Matt Andriese came on in the bottom of the seventh for a scoreless frame, the Red Sox did add a little bit of offense in the eighth. Rafael Devers was the first batter to step in against Carlos Hernández, and on the first pitch he launched a fastball to straightaway center for a solo shot, bringing Boston to within four. They’d would continue to threaten with a base hit and a walk, and that was the end of the line for Hernández.
Kyle Zimmer, Friday night’s starter, came in for Kansas City next, and he was able to get the job done. He did issue a walk to load the bases, but preceded that with a strikeout and then got a big double play to end the inning, the score still sitting at 7-3.
Andriese tossed another scoreless inning in the eighth, giving the Red Sox one more chance for a miracle. They didn’t get it, going down in order to finish off the loss. The 7-3 outcome dropped Boston’s record to 43-29.
The Red Sox now have the day off on Monday before heading down to Tampa for a three-game set against the Rays. That one will start on Tuesday with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on old friend Rich Hill. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.