After an exhilarating Saturday at Fenway Park, from a heartwarming pregame tribute to the Boston Marathon victims and survivors to the late-game heroics by Daniel Nava, Sunday was a letdown as the Red Sox dropped a doubleheader to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2 and 5-4, in their worst day of the season thus far.
In Game 2, Andrew Miller walked Lorenzo Cain with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to force in the winning run, as the Sox were unable to score in the bottom of the inning.
Miller allowed a single to Alex Gordon, a walk to Alcides Escobar, and an Eric Hosmer infield single to shortstop to load the bases with two outs. But he threw four straight balls to Cain.
Rookie Allen Webster’s first major league start ended after six innings and with the Sox holding a 4-3 lead. He had a chance for his first major league victory, but Koji Uehara’s 18⅓ inning scoreless streak came to an end when he served up a solo homer to Billy Butler in the eighth to tie the score at 4.
The first-game loss ended Boston’s seven-game winning streak. But a longer streak also ended when Ryan Dempster took the loss and ended Boston’s 16-game streak of a starter allowing three runs or fewer. Dempster allowed four runs in seven innings.
Webster, the 23-year-old rookie, learned he can dominate some major league hitters with his exceptional repertoire. He also learned he can’t leave pitches over the plate, no matter how hard he throws.
Webster, one of two pitching prospects (along with Rubby de la Rosa) acquired in the August 25 salary dump with the Dodgers, coughed up a 3-1 lead, but the Sox pulled ahead with an RBI single by Mike Napoli in the fifth and Webster didn’t give it up.
Webster departed after allowing two earned runs on five hits, with one walk and five strikeouts.
The first pitch Webster threw – a 95 m.p.h. fastball – was stung off the left field wall by Gordon for a double. After Escobar reached on an infield hit to short, scoring Gordon, Pedro Ciriaco, who got the start at shortstop over the slumping Stephen Drew, compounded things when he committed the first infield error of the season when he threw the ball into the stands, moving Escobar to second. Webster got the next three batters.
While appearing to have dominating stuff, one of the criticisms of him is that he tends to throw too much over the plate. That was the case on solo homers by George Kottaras and Gordon in the fifth to tie the score 3-3.
Trailing, 1-0, the Red Sox rebounded with two runs in the second inning on Napoli’s third homer, a bomb over the Green Monster, his first of two RBIs, giving him 20 in 18 games. Napoli stroked three hits and fell a triple short of the cycle.
Later in the inning Mike Carp, getting a start in left field, doubled in Jarrod Saltalamcchia (walk). The hit for Carp was his fifth in as many plate appearances.
In Game 1, Dempster allowed four runs in his seven-inning stint, while the Sox offense couldn’t quite fathom Royals starter Ervin Santana, the former Angels righthander who allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings to earn the win.
The Sox played both games without right fielder Shane Victorino, who was nursing a sore back.
The Sox had been 10-0 when they scored first, but first blood in Game 1 was drawn by the Royals on Escobar’s homer to left with one out in the first inning. Boston countered with two runs in the bottom of the first. Three straight singles after one out by Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz produced the first run, and Napoli’s ground ball out to second base scored the go-ahead run.
That held until the fourth, when the Royals scored three runs against Dempster.
Butler and Hosmer started the inning with singles and Cain, who has tormented Sox pitching in this series, doubled to left, scoring Butler. After Dempster roared back with a pair of strikeouts and looked as if he’d get out of the inning with limited damage, Salvador Perez lined a single to left-center, just out of Drew’s range, to score a pair of runs.
Drew, who has performed well at shortstop, simply doesn’t have the range of Jose Iglesias, who more than likely would have caught the ball.
The Sox got a one-out double down the right field line around the railing by Ortiz in the sixth off Santana, but they were unable to capitalize as Napoli flied to right and Saltalamacchia struck out. In the eighth, Nava and Ortiz each singled and Napoli walked to load the bases against reliever Aaron Crow, who threw four straight balls to Napoli.
Crow started 2-0 to Saltalamacchia. But he swung on the next pitch and tapped back to Crow, who made the easy underhanded toss to first base to squirm out of the inning.Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.