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Red Sox 3, Royals 9: Rough Start To The Story

Trevor Story was hitless in his 2023 debut, but it would not have mattered, because the pitching was pretty horrendous in this game from the start.

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Coming into tonight’s game, it felt like a new narrative was emerging. Today was the first day of the rest of the season.

No, really: after a season spent lamenting a poor middle infield, our, uh, storied signing from March 2022 was making his return to the Red Sox after an elbow injury that shelved him all season. He played just 94 games in 2022, and at certain times he seemed very much the heralded slugger he was measured up to be from his time with the Rockies, but his strikeout rate was an alarming 30.8%. But, hey, maybe it’s new year, new Trevor! He raked in Worcester, showing the power that landed him second on the home run list last season for Boston, with 16, despite being sixth in games played.

Also, speaking of the middle infield, we just witnessed The Pablo Reyes Game last night, as he smacked a walk-off grand slam and scored 3 of Boston’s 6 runs. And with Christian Arroyo’s assignment to Worcester and Yu Chang’s release earlier in the day, the uncertainty of the everyday picture seems to be dwindling.

With what is close to the final iteration of this Boston Red Sox team (knock on wood), the team took the field against the floundering Kansas City Royals, Kutter Crawford facing off against promising young arm Brady Singer. The team was even wearing the yellow uniforms they’ve amassed a 21-4 record in! It felt really, really promising going in.

That feeling did not last. At all.

The game didn’t get off to the explosive start you’d hope for, with Trevor Story returning like a hero in an Avengers movie. He had a four-pitch strikeout that hopefully won’ be indicative of his season to come. But I can live with that for now, seeing as we just saw Yu Chang whiff on breaking balls to a .162 batting average.

Crawford allowed one run in a second inning that could have been much worse. It was apparent early on this would not be Kutter’s night. He was something of a magician getting out of innings unscathed despite missing his locations and allowing a ton of traffic. But his luck ran out in the fourth inning, when Drew Waters hit a no-doubter to score himself and Matt Beaty and make the game 3-0, Royals. Crawford plunked Bobby Witt, Jr. in the shoulder on a high inside fastball, and that would be it for him.

After a Brennan Bernadino appearance and still no offense from the Sox off Singer, Alex Cora would turn to Dinelson Lamet to make his Red Sox debut in the fifth, which is entirely too early to be on your third pitcher of the game, but I digress. Comparatively, Brady Singer had allowed just one hit going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but Adam Duvall smacked a ball out of orbit to lead the frame off and put the Sox on the board. Connor Wong drove Alex Verdugo in to make the game 3-2 and to force Matt Quataro to activate his bullpen.

Unfortunately, Lamet’s magician act, like Crawford’s, would also be pretty short-lived. Maikiel Garcia took third on a stolen base wild pitch that Connor Wong miffed the recovery and throw on, and a sac fly later, Garcia was in to make it a 2-run game again. A few batters later, MJ Melendez ripped a Lamet meatball into the Monster Seats for an oppo home run. Alex Verdugo mercifully ended the inning with a gem on another Lamet silver platter special that would have made the game unattainable, but the Royals instead had to settle for a 6-2 lead. But, not to worry, Waters made stealing second look easy off newcomer Nick Robertson, and Kyle Isbel again drove Waters in. Michael Massey crushed one near the Pesky Pole to make this game 9-2.

At this point, I could write that Stone Cold Steve Austin came in and hit everyone with chair shots. It wouldn’t have mattered, as awesome as it would have looked, as long, of course, as it was a “worked” chair. Alex Verdugo got driven in by a hard hit ball by Jarren Duran, who had been in a lengthy hitless streak. 9-3.

That 9-3 score, was, sadly, how it stayed.

And remember the earlier note on Story’s strikeout rate? He went 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts. Again, not a cause for alarm yet, but not a great start.

While Toronto got shut out and the Sox’s deficit on the final Wild Card slot did not get any bigger it generally doesn’t feel great to see a team struggling as much as Kansas City run up 15 hits and treat the basepaths like a track, stealing six bases. Remember, this Kansas City team is trading last place in baseball with a team who gets outdrawn by minor league teams.

Boston is now 2-5 since the trade deadline. Let’s just hope the wild card picture does not become any more insurmountable as the Red Sox face beatable teams.

Three Studs

Adam Duvall: 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K

Alex Verdugo: 1-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, K

Triston Casas: 2-4, 1 K

Three Duds

Dinelson Lamet: 2 IP, 3 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K

Kutter Crawford: 3 13 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 6 K

Trevor Story: 0-4, 3 K

Play of the Game

I hate when the team gets hosed and I have to pick a play of the game, The Waters home run and the Melendez home run would have this, as evidenced by Fangraphs, but if I must pick, Adam Duvall’s dinger just looked pretty. That was probably the only thing that looked pretty all night.