The clock struck 2 a.m. Tuesday morning when Marco Scutaro took a called third strike from Joakim Soria to bring a gut-wrenching conclusion to a 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals in 14 innings before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,727 that was pared to a few hundred hardy souls by the end of this 4 hour 28 minute extra-inning affair.
The shortstop felt personally responsible for, perhaps, the worst loss of the 38 the Red Sox had suffered in their first 100 games this season when he missed the sign on a 12th-inning attempt at a squeeze play, the first the Sox had attempted all season.
“I didn’t see the sign. It was my fault. I just missed the sign,” said Scutaro as he stood in front of his locker in the Sox clubhouse swarmed by media. “I really can’t say nothing else. It was just my fault.”
With one out and Josh Reddick at third after he singled to center and advanced on a two-base throwing error by Royals reliever Louis Coleman, Scutaro came to the plate but missed the squeeze sign from third base coach Tim Bogar.
“I made sure I double-checked with Bogey out there, and he said, ‘Green light, go ahead.’ ” Reddick said. “I actually double-checked with him again to make sure I wasn’t missing the sign and looking foolish out there. I wanted to make sure 100 percent.”
Scutaro took an inside fastball from Coleman instead of squaring up for the bunt, leaving Reddick, who went 3 for 6 with two doubles and an RBI that drove in Boston’s only run way back in the second inning, caught in a rundown in no-man’s land between third base and home plate.
“We just missed the sign,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, whose team went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded men at third three times in the last six innings. “I thought it was a good opportunity. We got half of it right. We didn’t get the whole thing right. Red got it and Scoot didn’t. We had some other opportunities, too. We kind of let them off the hook it felt like.
“I know there’s not much sleep anyway, but that will be a tough one tonight.”
Asked what he thought when he saw Reddick charging toward the plate, Scutaro replied, bluntly, “I [messed] it up. After the pitch inside, I took a look and I was like ‘Oh.’ I really would’ve loved to come through for the team, but I just didn’t.”
That costly miscue was compounded when Scutaro singled to left, but ended the inning when he got thrown out at second by Royals’ left fielder Alex Gordon as he attempted to stretch the hit into a double.
“It feels bad,” the shortstop said. “It feels like all your teammates, manager, fans, they just want to kill you. It’s a bad feeling. Just come back tomorrow and win the game.”
When he got caught looking at a game-ending called third strike — after missing a squeeze sign in the 12th and then getting thrown out stretching a single into a double to end the inning — Scutaro had hit an ignominious trifecta.
“It’s my fault,” Scutaro repeated. “Tito’s trying to get something going. It’s late, we haven’t scored runs. We’ve been kind of struggling, bringing guys in from third base. Like said, it was my fault.”
- The loss, which snapped a nine-game winning streak at Fenway Park, put damper on Jon Lester‘s return to the mound Monday night after a 15-day stint on the disabled list for a strained left latissimus. Lester took a no-decision after going 5.1 innings and allowing 1 run on 7 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 6 and the only run he gave up enabled the Royals’ to tie it on Billy Butler‘s RBI double to left in the sixth. “It stinks,” Lester said of the protracted affair that was rain-delayed 2 hours 21 minutes at the start and took 4 hours 28 minutes to play 14 innings. “We waited around for two and a half hours to play a five-hour baseball game. It [stinks]. You want o come out on top of these ones. These one’s aren’t fun.”
- Kevin Youkilis will likely sit out Tuesday’s game vs. the Royals after departed Monday’s game after the seventh with right hamstring tightness after tweaking it trying to beat out a groundball to short. Youkilis came up limping after getting thrown out, but returned to the game to play the top of the seventh. Yamaico Navarro replaced him in the eighth. “The exam was really good,” Francona said afterward. “He hit the bag, and I think his heel sort of gave way a little bit. I think we’ll stay away from him tomorrow, but hopefully, it won’t be anything more than that. Who knows.”
- Dustin Pedroia extended his hittting streak to 22 games after he singled to right in the third inning the only base hit of his 1-for-6 night . . . Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless ninth to extend his streak of scoreless innings to 25 innings over his last 24, which, according to Elias Sports Bureau, ranked as an all-time club record . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia twice caught Melky Cabrera stealing, matching his career high for the fourth time . . . Cabrera went 4-for-6, matching his career high for the fifth time overall and second this season. It was his 41st multi-hit game of the year, ranking second in the American League behind Adrian Gonzalez (43), who went 2-for-6 with 3 strikeouts . . The Royals, who entered the game leading the majors with 37 sacrifices, pushed across the go-ahead runs in the 14th on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Aviles to break a 1-1 stalemate and a sacrifice fly to center by Jeff Francoeur that tacked on an insurance run, giving the Royals 39 sacrifice hits this season. . . Randy Williams (0-1) took the loss for the Red Sox after allowing the winning runs in the 14th … The Red Sox outhit the Royals, 13-12, marking the ninth game in a row the team has reached double-digit hits. It was, however, just the second time since 1964 the Red Sox had been limited to one run or less while recording 13 hits . . . The Sox fell to 4-3 in extra inning games. It was also the third time this season the Sox have played at least 14 innings this season, including 14 innings vs. the Oakland A’s June 4 and 16 innings at Tampa.