Boston Red Sox: Kansas City Royals

Sox knock Royals from 1st, now 5-0 vs. K.C.

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
12:26
AM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The miserable season record can just go jump in the lake. After two games in Kansas City, these Boston Red Sox are feeling much better about themselves and their prospects.

Young players are getting key hits and making pitches and keeping their focus. Veteran closer Koji Uehara returned after a week off and pitched a crisp, 1-2-3 eighth inning. And following Friday night's 4-2 victory, the Red Sox, for the first time in team history, have beaten the Kansas City Royals the first five times they've met in a season.

[+] EnlargeKoji Uehara
Ed Zurga/Getty ImagesKoji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in his first appearance since being removed from the closer role.
Maybe the lone sour note belongs to fans hungering to see Cuban defector Rusney Castillo make his major league debut. With the Pawtucket Red Sox going deep into extra innings on Friday night in Game 4 of the Governors' Cup finals (eventually winning 4-2 in the 13th to force a winner-take-all Game 5 versus the Durham Bulls), manager John Farrell decided to stick with his original plan and have Castillo, and perhaps others from the Triple-A club, meet the Red Sox in Pittsburgh, where they'll start a three-game series on Tuesday. He had been toying with the idea of bringing Castillo to Kansas City.

Otherwise, it's all been good for the Bostonians these first two games in K.C., where the Royals have kicked the ball around for two nights in a row and dropped half a game behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

"We're getting key hits, playing good defense, pitching the ball well. It's just a collective thing," said right fielder Mookie Betts, who had two hits, an RBI and a run scored Friday night. "We're facing some good arms. They [the Royals] are in the hunt, so they're going to try to get their wins. But I think we're battling them really well. The pitching staff, the way they've been throwing these last two games, the clutch hitting, we're running the bases well."

The Royals, trying to break an embarrassing 28-year playoff drought, have made four errors in the two games. Still, beating a contender has special meaning for Red Sox players who tumbled all the way from World Series champs to last place in the AL East.

"I'm sure it does," Betts said. "Since we're not in it, we might as well put everybody else out of it that we can. But I think we're just going out and playing the game and enjoying ourselves."

Allen Webster, one of the youngsters who hopes to compete for a rotation spot in 2015, went six innings and allowed only four hits and two runs -- on a two-run smash when a changeup drifted too close to the heart of the plate against Eric Hosmer.

"I thought he was ahead in the count a little more frequently, and he had a very good changeup against left-handers to slow them down," Farrell said. "With the exception of the one changeup that stayed up to Hosmer, he was efficient, he was powerful, and it was encouraging to see the overall command of the strike zone. The bullpen has been outstanding these two games."

After Edward Mujica earned the save for the second night in a row, Farrell said he still plans to ease Uehara slowly back into his closer role.

"It was good to see Koji get back on the mound for us and attack the strike zone, which he's done for a long period of time," Farrell said. "But just to get him back in the flow of things was a positive here tonight."

One of many.

Rapid Reaction: Royals 9, Red Sox 6

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
11:49
PM ET


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jake Peavy, who was everything the Red Sox could have wished for in his first start, was nobody's idea of a good time Friday night in a 9-6 loss, with the exception of the Kansas City Royals, who are known to have fun at Peavy's expense, especially here.

The Sox gave Peavy a lead on three different occasions, only to have the Royals seize it back all three times, scoring six runs against Peavy and two relievers, Drake Britton and Pedro Beato, in a sixth-inning collapse in which Kansas City sent 11 men to the plate.

Peavy gave up 10 hits, including home runs by Justin Maxwell and Alex Gordon, did not strike out a batter and was charged with six runs on a night when the Royals swung and missed at only two of his 105 pitches.

Peavy had a 6-3 lead entering the sixth, courtesy of a bases-loaded, slump-breaking double by Mike Napoli that cleared the bases in the fourth. But the Royals opened the sixth with singles by Maxwell, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar to cut the score to 6-4 and bring an end to Peavy's labors.

Rookie lefty Britton entered and walked light-hitting catcher George Kottaras, who came into the game batting .167, then retired pinch hitter Miguel Tejada on a pop fly. Rookie David Lough followed with a sacrifice fly, on which Shane Victorino's throw to the plate was a whisker too late to catch Moustakas and allowed the runners to advance into scoring position. Eric Hosmer then stuck out his bat and placed a ground-ball single through the left side to give the Royals a 7-6 lead.

Billy Butler greeted right-handed reliever Beato with a two-base hit, beating the throw into second from Jacoby Ellsbury. After a walk to Gordon, Maxwell delivered his third hit of the game -- and second of the inning -- a run-scoring single that made it 9-6.

Peavy is no stranger to long nights in Kauffman Stadium; he is 1-5 with a 6.42 ERA in seven starts in Kansas City.

The Sox brought the tying run to the plate after Worcester, Mass., native Tim Collins walked Ellsbury and Victorino to open the eighth inning, but Dustin Pedroia's sharp ground ball to third erased both baserunners on a double play, and David Ortiz, who had earlier hit his 22nd home run of the season, popped out to end the inning.

The Sox, who had to come from behind twice to salvage wins in three games against the last-place Astros, have now dropped two straight to the Royals, who are 17-4 since the All-Star break, have climbed seven games over .500, and have thrust themselves into the wild-card race.

Chen shows Sox what could have been

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
12:41
AM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As a candidate to rewrite history, it's tough to compete with Royals left-hander Bruce Chen for what might have been.

Instead of pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Thursday night in Kansas City's 5-1 win in Kauffman Stadium, Chen could have been one of the most improbable heroes in Red Sox history. Terry Francona never would have been fired, the chicken and beer never would have gotten past the clubhouse door, and the Sox would not have missed the playoffs in 2011.

[+] EnlargeBruce Chen
AP Photo/Colin E. BraleyAfter shutting down the Red Sox on Thursday, Bruce Chen talked about the time he nearly joined them in 2011.
It came this close to happening, Chen said Thursday night after pitching the "they sure look real" Royals to their 16th win in 20 games since the All-Star break. His slow, slower, slowest repertoire of pitches kept the Sox off-balance, with only one Sox baserunner advancing as far as second while he was in the game.

Chen said he had his bags packed, ready to fly to Tampa Bay to pitch for the Sox in what looked like a certain play-in game against the Tampa Bay Rays to break a tie for a wild-card spot.

"At the time I was in Minnesota," he said, "and as of 10 o'clock that morning they [the Royals] said they had all details worked out, it was just a matter of seeing if it was approved [by the commissioner's office] or not. I had all my stuff packed ready to go to Tampa. I had a flight at 4 or 5 that afternoon."

The Sox were desperate for starting pitching at the time. If they ended the regular season in a tie with the Rays, Theo Epstein wanted to import someone for the one-game playoff in the Trop. A guy who had spent six months with another club, and would not be eligible to pitch in the postseason, was tabbed to be entrusted with the biggest game of the year for the Sox.

At 1 o'clock, Chen said, he thought it was a go. By 3, he had been informed that he would be pitching that night for the Royals against the Twins in their season finale. The approval didn't come, as the Rays lodged an objection with the commissioner's office. "I never found out what happened," Chen said.

It all became moot later that night when Jonathan Papelbon coughed up a ninth-inning lead in Baltimore, Carl Crawford failed to catch a line drive he used to snare in his sleep with the Rays, and Tampa Bay staged an incredible comeback against the Yankees.

"That would have been nice," Chen said of the game that never was. "It would have been one of the good stories. But I'm glad I stayed here in K.C."

Chen did make one cameo appearance for the Red Sox, back in 2003. He lasted just five appearances, including two starts, gave up 4 home runs in 12 1/3 innings and hardly looked like a guy who would still be pitching a decade later. Not only pitching, but at age 36, thriving. He won 35 games over the last three years for a sub-.500 Royals team, and since being restored to the rotation after working in long relief, is 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA.

In a career that began with Atlanta in 1998, Chen has pitched for 10 big league teams. The five-plus seasons he has spent with the Royals is his longest stay anywhere, and now he has stuck around long enough to see them display the makings of a winner.

And he's right in the middle of it, even though his fastball could force radar guns into early retirement.

"I have to change speeds on all my pitches," he said. "I have to make my fastball look faster than it is. I can't rely on just throwing my fastball and pretending that it's OK. Eventually, they catch up to that.

"I make sure with my changeup, I throw one 78, 79 then throw another one 73. My fastball is 83, and sometimes 88. My curveball is 77, 78, then 68. I imagine it has to be a little difficult. Hitters say, 'What is he throwing?' Well, a curveball 69 to 78. 'OK, which one is he going to throw?'

"Ultimately, because of all the things I've gone through in my career, I have learned to become the pitcher I've become today. I learned through trial and error. Sometimes I didn't do very well. Eventually, they figure you out. It'll be interesting to see what I have to do to keep this going."

The Red Sox, who put Jon Lester in a 3-0 hole on Thursday when Jonny Gomes slipped and fell on a fly ball, the first of three errors the Sox would make on the night, will try to regain their footing Friday night behind Jake Peavy, imported in 2013 to do what Chen almost had the chance to do two years earlier: Pitch the Sox into the playoffs.

Rapid Reaction: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
11:20
PM ET


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jon Lester, the great Royal killer, looked like a flesh-and-bone mortal against a team he’s made a habit of torturing.

If there was ever a sure thing in baseball recently, it was Lester hogtying the Royals. But in the first inning of Boston’s 4-3 loss on Wednesday, Lester gave up three runs, which may seem like a rather insignificant total.

But it’s significant because in the last four years -- five games in all -- Lester has given up only three runs against the Royals. Total. He matched that in Wednesday’s first inning, although it wasn’t quite that simple. Lester labored through the cool Kansas City night, unable to hit a groove, a problem shared by the Red Sox offense.

Other than a three-run double from Adrian Gonzalez in the third inning, which increased his season RBI total by 19 percent with one swing, Boston’s attack carried little punch. (David Ortiz didn’t get a hit. Neither did Will Middlebrooks, back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday’s game early.) Lester wasn’t awful, and neither was the offense, but combined they were wholly just short of good enough.

And the damage, or most of it anyway, came right away.

With two outs and two strikes against Kansas City's Billy Butler, the first inning’s third batter, Lester didn’t get much help from home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. Then he didn’t get much help from his outfield.

One strike from ending the first, Lester didn’t get a call on a borderline pitch; he actually started walking off the mound, thinking he struck Butler out. Butler eventually walked.

Two batters later, Marlon Byrd misjudged and misplayed Johnny Giavotella’s line drive, an error that allowed a run to score. Later, Cody Ross nearly made a great running catch in left-center field, but after two steps, the ball popped out of his glove, bounced off the wall and resulted in a two-run double.

Lester gave up only one more run after the first inning, but he was never efficient. He exited after only five innings, his worst start against the Royals since his rookie year in 2006. On this night, the offense couldn’t bail him out.

For four innings, from the fifth through the eighth, Boston didn’t move a runner past first base. But come the ninth, against Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, the Sox put runners on second and third with one out.

Alex Gordon made a sliding catch on Ryan Sweeney’s fly ball to left, and Mike Aviles grounded out to end the game.

The Sox are just 1-7 in May, and return to Fenway Park, where they are 4-10 on the season.

Doubront gives Sox what they need

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
1:22
AM ET


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It isn’t often that, after a pitcher gives up four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, he is showered with praise from his manager and teammates.

Then again, it isn’t often that a team uses seven relievers and one position player in a single game or throws its bullpen for 26 2/3 innings in a three-game series.

And so within that context, with the understanding that he had to give the Red Sox some innings, Felix Doubront pitched the kind of game his team needed, helping Boston snap a five-game losing streak with an 11-6 win Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

“His line is not going to show how well he threw the ball,” Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach said. “He was actually more crisp as the game went on and had more life on his fastball. I thought his last four innings are as good as he’s thrown this year.”

Doubront hardly tossed a clean game; he gave up seven hits and four earned runs while loading the bases before exiting in the seventh. Yet those numbers, in some way, meant just as much as these two: 111 pitches that carried him through 6 1/3 innings. This was not a refined masterpiece displaying the art of efficient pitching. No, to quote the esteemed anthropologist Larry the Cable Guy, this was a lesson in simply gittin-r-done.

[+] EnlargeFelix Doubront
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerHis outing was far from flawless, but Felix Doubront gave the Sox bullpen some much-needed rest.
“Gave us exactly what we needed,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said, which is true.

Valentine also delivered a teaching moment -- and perhaps a message -- to Doubront, his 24-year-old lefty. After a four-pitch walk to Billy Butler in the first inning, Valentine left the dugout for a meeting with Doubront on the mound.

“I think there are starting pitchers that are falling into a habit I don’t want to see: complaining about the umpire,” Valentine said. “I went out and tried to put a stop to it before it spread. There were a couple pitches that were close, and he stood there and looked at the umpire. That’s not the way we’re going to start this stuff.”

Said Doubront of his manager’s early visit: “I focused more and forgot about those calls.”

It may have been even more important on a night when the depleted Red Sox bullpen had few options to catch Doubront if he stumbled. A 17-inning game against Baltimore on Sunday capped a series-long trend in which Boston’s bullpen had to log some serious work.

Valentine and Doubront both had an understanding of what that meant: Doubront, a talented but inefficient pitcher, needed to chew up innings. He entered averaging slightly more than five innings per start.

“That was one of my goals: try to get the most innings I can and battle to the end,” Doubront said.

He did that -- until the seventh inning. That’s when the wheels started to come off on an otherwise solid, if unremarkable, outing. Three singles, none particularly well hit, loaded the bases with one out and Boston holding a three-run lead.

Doubront walked Alex Gordon, ending his night and turning the game over to that overworked bullpen. In came Vicente Padilla, one of the few available relievers. He promptly forced Billy Butler, the Royals’ best hitter, to hit into an inning-ending double play, then stayed in to close out the game.

More important, Padilla restored order to the Boston bullpen, which badly needed a day of insignificant toil.

“He got a save, and he deserved a number, deserved a statistic,” Valentine said. “He came in, gets the double play and creates a situation where our bullpen can be almost normal tomorrow.”

The Red Sox offense also provided Doubront with plenty of wiggle room for mistakes, which he made at times. The Boston bats came out booming, pounding Kansas City’s leaky pitching staff.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia contributed home runs and multihit games, but rookie Will Middlebrooks outdid them both in continuing his hot start with two homers and a double. He hit one home run down the right-field line, one down the left-field line and hit his double to center field.

“That just kind of comes with developing my approach and sticking with it,” Middlebrooks said. “Certain guys I’ll look away or if I know a guy’s going to come in or with a certain pitch, I’ll look for that.”

And filed under the hard-to-believe category, Shoppach hit the first triple of his career -- and it only took him 1,525 plate appearances spanning eight years to do so. Shoppach entered with the fourth-most plate appearances ever without a triple. It was the longest streak among active players.

“First triple ever,” Valentine marveled. “Ever. High school, college, pros. Ever. First triple.”

It all added up to a bounce-back win following Sunday’s 17-inning marathon loss, a loss that capped a series sweep against the Orioles in Boston.

“Making that flight here after that game and having that effort, I know we’re talking about small victories, but they can all be proud of what they did today,” Valentine said. “Really easy not to do what they did.”

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 11, Royals 5

May, 7, 2012
5/07/12
11:38
PM ET


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If there ever was a game in which quantity, not quality, held more weight for a starting pitcher, it was Monday's for the Red Sox.

Boston manager Bobby Valentine made it clear before the first pitch that he needed his starter, Felix Doubront, to chew up innings. And that’s exactly what Doubront did, lasting a season-high 6 1/3 innings and pitching just well enough in Boston’s 11-5 win against the Kansas City Royals.

Oh, yeah, the Red Sox snapped a five-game losing streak along the way.

It helped that on a night when Boston couldn’t dig into its bullpen, the offense pounded the Royals’ leaky pitching staff.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia had home runs and multihit games, and rookie Will Middlebrooks continued the hot start to his career with two homers and a double. And filed under the hard-to-believe category, Kelly Shoppach hit the first triple of his career -- and it only took him 1,525 plate appearances spanning eight years to do so. Shoppach entered with the fourth-most plate appearances ever without a triple. It was also the longest streak among active players.

But this game was about Doubront, not so much because of the way he pitched but because of the way he had to pitch.

Doubront hardly tossed a clean game; he gave up seven hits and four earned runs while loading the bases before exiting in the seventh. Yet those numbers, in some way, meant just as much as these two: 111 pitches that carried him through 6 1/3 innings. This was not a refined masterpiece displaying the art of efficient pitching. No, to quote the esteemed anthropologist Larry the Cable Guy, this was a lesson in simply gittin-r-done.

Doubront’s moment came in the seventh, when three singles loaded the bases with Boston holding onto a three-run lead. He walked Alex Gordon, ending his night and turning the game over to the heavily taxed bullpen.

In came Vicente Padilla to face Billy Butler, the Royals’ best hitter, with the bases still loaded. Padilla ended the inning with a double play. Led by Middlebrooks and Cody Ross, Boston added four more runs -- some serious cushion for the bullpen -- in the eighth.

Boston’s relievers entered Kansas City on fumes, the result of shouldering a heavy workload in the series against Baltimore. That meant one thing for Doubront, and it was the one thing he had struggled with this year: He had to work deep (or at least reasonably deep) into the game.

For six-plus innings, the Boston bullpen remained quiet, relegated to spectators for the first time in a while. It must have been a welcome relief -- that is, until the bullpen had to cut off Kansas City’s seventh-inning rally.

Padilla pitched the final 2 2/3 innings for Boston, just one day after the Sox used seven relievers and a position player on the mound.

Notes: A battle for Buchholz

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
12:41
AM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The only real positive Clay Buchholz could take out of Sunday's 8-6 Red Sox win over the Royals was the decision, his first win of 2010.

Otherwise, it was frequently a painful exercise to watch him labor despite the luxury of a 4-0 lead before he took the mound. Buchholz gave up a hit to the leadoff man in all five innings he pitched, including a home run by Jose Guillen. Buchholz threw 94 pitches, and despite radar-gun readings that hit 97 (highly suspect), whiffed just one.

“Kind of bend but not break,’’ manager Terry Francona said of Buchholz’s performance. “He was pitching out of the stretch a lot. But giving up hits, if you don’t walk people they have to get hits to beat you. I’d much rather see that, much rather have him attack the zone. That’s OK.

“I thought there were some good things, too. A couple of times, he was a hit or two away from having a tough inning, a hit or two away from it being a lot closer than it was.’’

Buchholz, who had tried to stay sharp by throwing a simulated game last week, said he was generally pleased with how he felt.

“It was a battle,’’ he said. “It’s not how I planned it out, but we still got the win, so everything else that went into it was all worthwhile.’’

Buchholz's outing was undoubtedly monitored from afar by Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went five scoreless innings in Pawtucket on Saturday but may need a crowbar to pry a spot in the rotation unless Buchholz disintegrates.

Drew ready for Monday
J.D. Drew, who did not start because of neck stiffness, but was pressed into action after Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury in the ninth, said it will be time “to get the heartbeat going” and return to the lineup Monday. “It’s playable,’’ said Drew, who said the stiffness began for reasons unclear to him last Monday and worsened the last couple of nights. “Weird, I can turn my head to the left and right,’’ he said, “but I was feeling it with every step I took. At least I could move it. Other times when I’ve had it, I could hardly move.’’

Ellsbury hurt his ribs after taking a knee from Adrian Beltre in a collision with the Sox third baseman. Ellsbury was in foul territory, calling for a ball hit by the Royals’ Mitch Maier, when a backpedaling Beltre hit him forcefully with his knee.

X-rays proved negative, but don’t expect to see Ellsbury in the starting lineup Monday when the Red Sox help the Minnesota Twins open their new ballpark, Target Field. For more on Ellsbury, click here.

Making it interesting
Reliever Ramon Ramirez lengthened Francona’s day beyond what it should have been, when he went single, single, Guillen home run to the only three batters he faced in the eighth, allowing the Royals to draw within a pair, 8-6.

Daniel Bard, making his fifth appearance in six games, and Jonathan Papelbon had to be summoned to put down the Royals. Manny Delcarmen threw better, according to Francona.

Top heavy
The first three batters in the Sox order combined for eight hits. Ellsbury and Victor Martinez each had a single and double, while Dustin Pedroia had four hits, the 13th game of his career in which he has had four or more hits.

Knocking on Doerr
Bobby Doerr leads all Red Sox second basemen with 223 home runs, among Bostonians who played at least 70 percent of their games at second base. With three home runs in the season’s first six games, including one Sunday, Pedroia is within two of tying for second place. Can you guess whom Pedroia is within striking distance of? (Answer below.)

Pedroia’s four-hit game came a day after being hit in the posterior by a fastball from Zack Greinke.

How did Pedroia manage to get his hands inside and on top of a high and tight fastball from Gil Meche and drive it into the left-field seats?

“He did it in that video game,’’ Francona said.

Scutaro sits
Marco Scutaro also was hit by Greinke, in the left elbow, and did not play Sunday, though Francona said he’d intended to give Scutaro the day off anyway. Scutaro had an icepack on his left wrist and hand. “It’s like the pain spread down here,’’ Scutaro said. “The elbow is still sore too. I was wearing an elbow pad, but it felt like I had nothing on.’’

More struggles for Papi
Josh Beckett was grazed in the back of the head by a line drive hit by David DeJesus Saturday night, which had David Ortiz howling in disbelief Sunday. “That was close as you can come to being killed,’’ said Ortiz, which reminded him of the time he nailed Kyle Snyder in the backside with a line drive. The 6-foot-8 Snyder was pitching for the Royals at the time before his stint with the Red Sox.

“He told me later he was so mad at me,’’ Ortiz said. “He said, ‘I tried to get out of the way, because I have no ass.’’’

But there was no laughter emanating from Big Papi’s locker after the game, not after he whiffed four more times, giving him nine punchouts in his first 18 at-bats, his average dropping to .118. On one of his whiffs, he was ahead in the count, 3-and-0. On his last at-bat, he had the count at 3-and-1 and wound up taking a called third strike.

A morose-looking Ortiz shook his head when asked to talk after the game.

“I mean, it was a tough day,’’ Francona said. “We scored a bunch of runs, [but] he had a tough day. He worked hard yesterday. I give him credit. He was in the cage all day. But he’s just in between. Couple of cutters, a coupe of fastballs got by him, just a tough day.

“When you’re going good, it’s so easy. When you’re not going good, it’s so hard.’’

Square deal for Beltre
Beltre had three more hits Sunday, giving him a .400 average, best among Sox regulars, after the first week of the season. “He’s squared up more balls than anybody,’’ Francona said. ... Bill Hall made his first start this season, at short, and dropped a ball in left field that should have been caught by Ellsbury. The left fielder later explained he was camped under the ball but lost it in the sun and did not call off Hall. ... The day after hitting two home runs, Jason Varitek was in the bullpen before the game, doing catching drills with bullpen coach Gary Tuck. ... Three things that draw people to Kauffman Stadium: Greinke, the water fountains and the condiment races. Very tough place to be a baseball fan. ... Quiz answer: Mike Andrews, with 47 homers.

Quick hits: Sox 8, Royals 6

April, 11, 2010
4/11/10
5:54
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few observations after the Red Sox beat the Royals 8-6 to take two out of three here.

* Two outs away from escaping with a sloppy 8-6 win, the Sox were sobered by the sight of left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury walking off the field clutching his left rib area after taking a knee from Adrian Beltre in a collision with the Sox third baseman. Ellsbury was in foul territory, calling for a ball hit by the Royals' Mitch Maier, when a backpedaling Beltre hit him forcefully with his knee.

We'll update as soon as we get a report on Ellsbury's condition.

UPDATE: X-rays on Ellsbury's ribs are negative, but it appears likely he won't play Monday. For more, click here.

* The only real positive Clay Buchholz can take out of the day is the decision, his first win of 2010. Otherwise, it was a painful exercise to watch him labor despite the luxury of a 4-0 lead before he took the mound. Buchholz gave up a hit to the leadoff man in all five innings he pitched, including a home run by Jose Guillen. Buchholz threw 94 pitches, and despite radar-gun readings that hit 97 (highly suspect), whiffed just one.

His outing was encouraging to only one person: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went five scoreless innings in Pawtucket Saturday but may need a crowbar to pry a spot on the rotation unless Buchholz disintegrates.

* Reliever Ramon Ramirez lengthened Terry Francona’s day beyond what it should have been, when he went single, single, Guillen home run to the only three batters he faced in the eighth, allowing the Royals to draw within a pair, 8-6.

* The first three batters in the Sox order combined for eight hits. Ellsbury and Victor Martinez each had a single and double, while Dustin Pedroia had four hits, the 13th game of his career in which he has had four or more hits.

* Bobby Doerr leads all Red Sox second basemen with 223 home runs, among Bostonians who played at least 70 percent of their games at second base. With three home runs in the season’s first six games, including one Sunday, Pedroia is within two of tying for second place. Can you guess whom Pedroia is within striking distance of? (Answer below.)

Pedroia’s four-hit game came a day after being hit in the posterior by a fastball from Zack Greinke. Marco Scutaro also was hit by Greinke, in the elbow, and did not play Sunday, though Francona said he’d intended to give Scutaro the day off anyway.

* Josh Beckett was grazed in the back of the head by a line drive hit by David DeJesus Saturday night, which had David Ortiz howling in disbelief Sunday. “That was close as you can come to being killed,’’ said Ortiz, which reminded him of the time he nailed Kyle Snyder in the backside with a line drive. The 6-foot-8 Snyder was pitching for the Royals at the time before his stint with the Red Sox.

“He told me later he was so mad at me,’’ Ortiz said. “He said, ‘I tried to get out of the way, because I have no ass.’’’

* There was no laughter emanating from Big Papi’s locker after the game, not after he whiffed four more times, giving him nine punchouts in his first 18 at-bats, his average dropping to .118. On one of his whiffs, he was ahead in the count, 3-and-0. On his last at-bat, he had the count at 3-and-1 and wound up taking a called third strike.

* Beltre had three more hits Sunday, giving him a .400 average, best among Sox regulars, after the first week of the season. “He’s squared up more balls than anybody,’’ Francona said.

* Bill Hall made his first start this season, at short, and dropped a ball in left field that should have been caught by Ellsbury.

* The day after hitting two home runs, Jason Varitek was in the bullpen before the game, doing catching drills with bullpen coach Gary Tuck.

* Three things that draw people to Kauffman Stadium: Greinke, the water fountains and the condiment races. Very tough place to be a baseball fan.

* Quiz answer: Mike Andrews, with 47 homers.

Lineups: Drew out with stiff neck

April, 11, 2010
4/11/10
12:31
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bill Hall becomes the last Red Sox position player to see action when he starts Sunday afternoon at shortstop for Marco Scutaro, while Jeremy Hermida unexpectedly gets another starting turn, this time in right with J.D. Drew out with a stiff neck.

Clay Buchholz, meanwhile, draws his first start of 2010, facing veteran Gil Meche.

Here are the lineups:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
7. Jeremy Hermida, RF
8. Mike Cameron, CF
9. Bill Hall, SS
P--Clay Buchholz, RHP

ROYALS
1. Scott Podsednik, LF
2. Mitch Maier, RF
3. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
4. Billy Butler, 1B
5. Rick Ankiel, CF
6. Jose Guillen, DH
7. Jason Kendall, C
8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
9. Chris Getz, 2B
P--Gil Meche, RHP

Tonight's Red Sox lineup

April, 10, 2010
4/10/10
4:00
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tonight’s Red Sox lineup against the Royals (7:10 p.m. ET).

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Jeremy Hermida, LF
8. Jason Varitek, C
9. Marco Scutaro, SS
SP -- Josh Beckett, RHP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This was supposed to be Salute to the Old Man Night in Kauffman Stadium, where Tim Wakefield gave the Sox seven strong innings. But the bullpen coughed up the game for him in a 4-3 loss to the Royals. Kansas City scored two in the eighth off Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard. Rick Ankiels' broken-bat, two-run single was the difference.

* The Sox put a potential tying run at second base on Mike Cameron's single and Marco Scutaro's sacrifice, but Jacoby Ellsbury took a called third strike and Dustin Pedroia fouled off seven pitches before flying to right.

* Wakefield, nervous? "Not really,'' said the oldest pitcher ever to start a game for the Sox. "I was just talking to my wife about it. I feel a little bit maybe on my way to the park, but once I'm here and settle into my routine, I'm fine.''

Wakefield had no idea who he had to pass to become the oldest. Told it was a former teammate, he guessed Bret Saberhagen, then Pete Schourek, and was surprised to hear it was The Boomer, David Wells, who was 43 years and 98 days in his last start for the Sox on Aug. 26, 2006. Wakefield is 43 years and 250 days old.

Sox manager Terry Francona, upon hearing that Wakefield was the oldest Sox pitcher to start a game, said: "I hope he becomes the oldest player to win one.''

* J.D. Drew hit a ball a very long way -- 443 feet to dead center, a two-run shot on a 2-and-0 change from Royals starter Kyle Davies, that gave the Sox a 3-0 lead in the fourth.

* The Royals still do all the little things that lead to a loss, like getting consecutive runners cut down on the base paths. Rick Ankiel wasted his one-out double in the fourth when he tried to advance on a ball hit in front of him, to short. Jose Guillen, who reached on the play, was then erased at the plate on Dustin Pedroia's strong relay, Victor Martinez doing a nice job of blocking the plate.

Then, after drawing to within 3-2 on home runs on consecutive pitches by Billy Butler and Ankiel, Royals reliever Robinson Tejeda entered and walked the only three batters he faced. But J.D. Drew was cut down stealing, and Kyle Farnsworth retired Jacoby Ellsbury (tapper to first) and Dustin Pedroia (whiff) to end the threat.

* David Ortiz was ejected for the eighth time in his career after plate umpire Mike Estabrook ruled he went around on a pitch in the sixth, and refused to accede to Ortiz's request to ask the third-base ump for help.

Tonight's Red Sox lineup

April, 9, 2010
4/09/10
4:51
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tonight’s Red Sox lineup against the Royals (8:10 p.m. ET).

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
7. J.D. Drew, RF
8. Mike Cameron, CF
9. Marco Scutaro, SS
SP -- Tim Wakefield, RHP

Royals claim Hernandez

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
4:00
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-handed pitcher Gaby Hernandez, who was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox on March 1, has today been claimed by the Kansas City Royals.

Hernandez, 23, was claimed off waivers by Boston from Seattle on Feb. 10. He spent all of last year with Triple-A Tacoma, going 10-9 with a 5.23 ERA (85 ER/146.1 IP), 98 strikeouts and 48 walks in 26 starts. He was originally selected by the New York Mets in the third round of the 2004 first-year player draft, and has played in the Mets (2004-05), Marlins (2006-08) and Mariners (2008-09) organizations.

Martinez catching Beckett

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
5:04
PM ET

The big news is that Victor Martinez will be catching Josh Beckett instead of Jason Varitek.

Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Victor Martinez, C

4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

5. Jason Bay, LF

6. David Ortiz, DH

7. Mike Lowell, 3B

8. J.D. Drew, RF

9. Alex Gonzalez, SS

SP -- Josh Beckett, RHP

Royals

1. David DeJesus, LF

2. Mitch Maier, CF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Brayan Pena, DH

5. Alberto Callaspo, 2B

6. Mark Teahen, RF

7 John Buck, C

8. Alex Gordon, 3B

9. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

SP -- Luke Hochevar, RHP

Red Sox impressed by Greinke

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
12:40
AM ET

KANSAS CITY -- Zack Greinke stood against the wall in the postgame press room at Kauffman Stadium, looking down at his shoes while his manager praised him. It may not have been comfortable for Greinke, but his manager pressed on, making the case for his star pitcher.

"I have a very difficult time thinking there's anybody in the major leagues ... as good a pitcher as Zack Greinke is in the year 2009," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.

Zack Greinke

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Zack Greinke held the Red Sox to just twho hits over six innings, and has surendered just one earned run over his last five starts.

Greinke changed speeds, darted in and out of the strike zone, and threw almost everything he had at the Red Sox on Tuesday night, beating them 5-1 and improving to 15-8 this season. His ERA is now 2.08, he has allowed just one earned run over his last five starts, and he is the front-runner for the Cy Young award.

His night was made easier when Paul Byrd allowed five runs in the first inning. Byrd, who in 2002 was the last Royal to win 15 games in a season, pitched efficiently after the first inning.

"The first inning wasn't very pretty," manager Terry Francona said. "But after that he pitched great. He kept our bullpen intact."

While Byrd's 6 2/3 innings was a help to Boston's bullpen, he was certainly no Greinke.

"He had everything," Francona said of the Royals' ace. "That's impressive. Velocity, maybe the best slider in the game ... seeing it firsthand, that was impressive stuff."

In this decade, Pedro Martinez has been the only AL pitcher who has had an ERA below 2.50 at the end of the season, doing it three times but winning the Cy Young only once. Greinke will not make it to 20 wins, but it will seem difficult to deny him the award with the numbers he's posted. Against the Red Sox on Tuesday, he needed only six innings and 91 pitches, leaving the game, he said, because he was tiring.

The Red Sox batters didn't seem to think so.

"The radar gun and everything looked the same," Jason Bay said. "If he was a little tired, he didn't show it to us."

Greinke, who was hit by a line drive in the elbow during his last start, had a modest take on his night.

"I didn't feel as crisp," he said. "I didn't really use the curveball a lot. ... It wasn't amazing, but it was a good outing."

That was all he needed against Boston.

Martinez makes Sox history

The only two players who got hits off Greinke were Dustin Pedroia, who doubled in the first inning, and Victor Martinez, who singled in the sixth. For Pedroia it extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

For Martinez, it was yet another achievement since coming to this team. He now has a 21-game hitting streak, and according to Elias Sports Bureau, that's the longest such streak for a switch-hitter in Red Sox history. The last Boston switch-hitter to have such a streak was Reggie Smith in 1969, who hit in 19 straight games. Overall, the longest hitting streak in team history was Dom DiMaggio's 34-gamer in 1949.

Bay's homer streak ends

Left fielder Jason Bay went homer-less for the first time in five games, and he didn't drive in a run on Tuesday, snapping a seven-game RBI streak. If he had homered or recorded an RBI, he would have been in special company.

Here's what the Stats & Information department at ESPN passed along:

It was the second seven-game streak this season in which Bay has driven in at least one run. According to Elias, Bay is the first Red Sox player to have two seven-game RBI streaks in one season since Ted Williams in 1950.

Expect the Red Sox to be interested in Chapman


With the news this week that Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman has established residency in the small European country of Andorra, the natural assumption was that many teams would wade into the bidding once the 21-year-old becomes a free agent. While clubs await official word from Major League Baseball about Chapman's free-agent status, expect the Red Sox to have serious interest.

Boston almost certainly will want to see Chapman throw in person. His agent, Edwin Leonel Mejia, told ESPN The Magazine that he will likely have private workouts for teams, not a showcase. But until Chapman is officially declared a free agent, the teams, including the Red Sox, won't know exactly what the rules of engagement will be until Chapman's agent sets them.

If and when teams are officially allowed to see Chapman in person, they will have to travel to Europe; the Red Sox would likely send at least international scouting director Craig Shipley and people within his department, and possibly other members of the front office at some point. Back in 2002, general manager Theo Epstein flew to Nicaragua to try to woo Jose Contreras, whom the Yankees signed to a four-year, $32 million deal. That later prompted team president Larry Lucchino's famous "evil empire" quote.

For now, teams will gather as much information they can and will look for any possible advantage once it comes time to negotiate. While Chapman's favorite player is Contreras -- who is now with the Rockies -- the Red Sox have Cuban-born Luis Tiant, the former star pitcher who could be called upon to make a phone call or perhaps even visit.

Quick hits


Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli stopped by Boston's clubhouse before Tuesday night's game. The relationship between Pioli and Francona dates back to Francona's first year in Boston, when both men were honored at an award banquet. Pioli, then with the New England Patriots, has kept in touch with Francona over the years. On Wednesday morning, Francona and perhaps some of the staff likely will check out a Chiefs practice at Arrowhead Stadium, right next to Kauffman Stadium. ... The likely rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium will be Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Byrd. For the Yankees, it will be Joba Chamberlain, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. ... Before the game, Red Sox reliever Billy Wagner was sitting in the dugout when he spotted Royals catcher Miguel Olivo coming toward him with a sheepish smile. Wagner gave Olivo a hard time about his success against him; Olivo is 8-for-12 (.667) vs. Wagner lifetime with two homers and a 1.833 OPS. "I look up [at the scoreboard], you're a .240 hitter and I can't ever get you out," Wagner told Olivo as he approached.

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