Xander Bogaerts

Game 40 Recap: Royals 3, Red Sox 2

The first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader saw the Red Sox fall to Kansas City in what was in a game that was basically the consummate modern Royals win. I don’t mean that in the pejorative sense. The world champs really suck the air out of the ballpark, and their 3-2 win against Steven Wright — who threw an effective eight-inning complete game in the loss — had all the hallmarks of the Kansas City(s) renaissance: timely hitting, great defense and a lockdown bullpen. I both fear and admire them. 

Top Play (WPA): Royals starter Ian Kennedy was pretty good, especially in the early innings. He painted the corners well enough that John Farrell left the dugout yet again to discuss the strike zone (having also done so Tuesday night, and in the Ron Kulpa Incident), but home plate umpire Brian Knight was calling them correctly, and Kennedy really was just spitting fire along the borders of the Amica Pitch Zone. All that said, Kennedy’s biggest mistake was the least likely hit of the season since “someone named” Christian Vazquez’s home run off Yankees superreliever Dellin Betances: A certified Chris Young bomb off a right-handed pitcher, when Young typically can’t hit righties at all. We’ll take it!

Bottom Play (WPA): Oy. This is what the Royals do, right? They take an early lead and even if they later give it up, they’ve “won” innings like boxers might win rounds, and they’re playing from a position of strength all game. In the first inning, Eric Hosmer hit a carbon-copy of his Tuesday night dingalinger to right-center field, a no-doubter that set the game’s extreme pace, one from which it wouldn’t let up. (It ended in a scorching 2 hours and 23 seconds.) Wright would only surrender one more run all game, but this big fly would be too much.

Key Moments: Two near-misses stand out. The first came in the fourth inning, when Travis Shaw faced a 3-0 count with runners on first and third with one out. He swung through Kennedy’s low-90s fastball on the next two pitches before watching another fastball inside for strike three; based on the velocity of the pitches, it was hard to see how he looked so late, but the looming threat of the changeup can do that, one supposes. The second came in the eighth inning, when Xander Bogaerts was nailed at third base with one out on a David Ortiz single, Jarrod Dyson’s laser throw just beating Bogey’s head-first slide. Was it bad for us? Yes. But it was also a nifty motherloving play, and there’s not much to do other than tip your cap.

Trend to Watch: The Red Sox struck out six times in a row at one point in the game, and while that’s troubling, I’m going to go back to an earlier Bogaerts head-first slide — one that shouldn’t have happened. In the fifth inning, with Dustin Pedroia on first after a walk. Alcides Escobar made an absurd play at short on a Bogaerts one-hopper. Escobar dove to his right then fired a rocket to Hosmer from his knees; Bogaerts slid head-first and was out by inches. As much as I’d like to give Bogaerts’s instincts the benefit of the doubt, and as much as Escobar deserves credit for a bananas play, sliding into first is almost never a good idea, and I agree with this:

Up next: By the time you read this, Game 2 will have started, so I’m not sure what you want from me here, people. I love you and all, but can I live?

Photo by Peter G. Aiken/USA Today Sports Images

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