Yet again, we lost. Yet again, it was crushing. Yet again, the whole thing could have been neatly avoided.
Lester lasted only five innings. He gave up four runs on six hits, but only one of those runs was earned, if you can believe it. He walked one and struck out three using a total of 108 pitches, sixty-nine of which were strikes.
The Royals jumped out early; Lester began with a groundout and a strikeout but then allowed a walk that clearly should have been a strikeout as well as a single. Byrd then made a fielding error that by itself allowed the three unearned runs: it caused Johnny Giavotella to reach, Jeff Francoeur to advance to third, Billy Butler to score, and then Francoeur and Giavotella to both score on a double by Brayan Pena. Byrd dropped the ball, both literally and figuratively. I’m serious. That was the fielding error. He just dropped it. And Pena’s double was no less strange; it was in Ross’s glove, then as his momentum carried him back it got out of the glove and bounced against the wall, and then somehow got back into his glove without hitting the ground. Words can not adequately express the frustration and humiliation that befell Red Sox Nation at the hands of Ross’s glove, or rather lack thereof.
Although our hitters didn’t make much of a splash in the first two innings, we answered Kansas City’s challenge in the third and tied it up. Byrd, perhaps in an attempt to make up for his egregious mistake, began the inning with a single. Sweeney then singled and, after Aviles flied out, Pedroia singled to load the bases. Papi of all people then struck out of all things, but Gonzalez, continuing his journey out of his slump, smacked a bases-clearing double. With one swing of the bat, the slate was clean once again.
We looked like we may have been poised to score more in the top of the fourth; Ross began it with a groundout, but then Salty doubled and Byrd got hit. Two outs later, Kansas City was up at bat, and a double and sac bunt later, the winning run had scored.
So Lester wasn’t as mediocre as his line would make him out to be, although he obviously wasn’t throwing his best stuff since he needed more than a hundred pitches to get through only five innings. Still, he did seem to settle down as the game went on. He retired the side in the fifth and was replaced by Mortensen in the sixth, when Mortensen did the same.
The only other time we came close to threatening was in the top of the ninth, when Ross, then replaced by pinch-runner McDonald, singled and Salty walked. Both advanced a base on Byrd’s sac fly, which Bobby V. thought should have been ruled differently because he said that Byrd was hit on the finger. He wanted home plate umpire Jeff Nelson to ask the opinion of first base umpire Tim Tschida. Nelson refused on the grounds that Tschida would have been too far away to have an opinion at all. And then Bobby V. went off about it after the game because Sweeney and Aviles provided two quick outs, and you never know what would have happened had the inning not been over.
Aviles had the team’s only multi-hit game with two hits. Gonzalez’s double and Salty’s double were the only extra-base hits we hit all night. Our batters didn’t pick up Ross’s slack, so we lost, 4-3. Yup. Ross dropped the ball. You know it’s getting out of hand when the only thing tempering your frustration is your retrospective lack of surprise.
Last but most certainly not least, the condolences of Red Sox Nation and I go out to the family of Carl Beane, the voice of Fenway Park since 2003, who passed away yesterday. His last game was the seventeen-inning loss. He loved this park and this team, and he and his voice will most certainly be missed.