Watch enough games and, eventually, you see just about everything. On Sunday, the Royals let a possible victory over Boston slip away in an 8-6 loss when shortstop Alcides Escobar committed two costly errors that led to three unearned runs.
“The ball is right is right in front of me both times,” he said, “and the ball beat me. It’s a hard situation right now for me. I’m really down right now. Two errors in one game, that’s bad for me.”
Escobar had not committed two errors in any of his 280 previous games with the Royals — let alone two such costly errors. (He did have two two-error games in 2010 with Milwaukee.)
These were costly.
It was 4-4 in the sixth inning when Escobar booted Mauro Gomez’s leadoff grounder. Mike Aviles followed with a single through the left side, which finished Royals starter Will Smith.
Tim Collins retired Scott Podsednik, after two fouled bunts, on a fly to left. Collins then struck out Pedro Ciriaco, but Jacoby Ellsbury pulled an RBI single off the glove of a leaping Eric Hosmer at first for a 5-4 lead.
“I jumped too early for it,” Hosmer said. “It wasn’t hit as hard as I thought.”
It was an unearned run because of Escobar’s error.
Aaron Crow replaced Collins to face Dustin Pedroia, who grounded back to the pitcher.
Then it was on to Jeremy Jeffress, who was the only reliever not to appear in Saturday’s 12-inning victory. He quickly worked his way into a jam – loading the bases with one out by surrendering two singles and a walk.
Jeffress struck out Aviles, but Podsednik’s sharp grounder ate up Escobar for another error — and another unearned run.
“They were both tough plays,” manager Ned Yost said. “The first one skipped up on him. The second one was hit hard. I think it was a little tough to see out of the shadows.”
Escobar was having none of it.
“No, no,” he said. “The first one, maybe, took two short (hops), but I can make that play. The second one, the ball was straight to me. He hit the ball hard, but the ball was straight to me.”
Pedro Ciriaco followed Escobar’s second error with a soft chop to third that turned into an RBI single. That run, too, was unearned. The Red Sox led by three; they won by two.
So it goes.
Want another oddity?
Billy Butler struck out four times in a game for the first time in his career.
“I saw the ball fine,” he said. “Maybe it was the after-effect of playing a late game (Saturday) and having a quick turnaround. I don’t know. I was just late on everything.”
It wasn’t errors, of course. The Red Sox banged out 14 hits, including homers by Ciriaco and Pedroia. The first four hitters in Boston’s lineup were a combined nine for 19 with five runs and five RBIs.
Smith, 4-6, got the loss after yielding five runs and nine hits in five-plus innings.
“I gave up a lot of base-hits,” he said, “and I couldn’t finish out an inning when I needed to. Not a good day today. It just wasn’t there today. I couldn’t get anybody out.”
Boston starter Felix Doubront gave up four runs in a span of four hitters in the fourth inning but little else before exiting after the fifth. Pedro Beato inherited a 4-4 game to start the sixth.
The Royals did little against Beato until the eighth when they loaded the bases with no outs. Jeff Francoeur drew a walk after singles by Butler and Salvy Perez. That brought Craig Breslow into the game.
Breslow struck out Johnny Giavotella before Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly to right. Tony Abreu pulled the Royals to within 7-6 with an RBI single up the middle. But Breslow stranded runners at first and third when Lorenzo Cain struck out.
Pedroia pushed Boston’s lead back to two runs by leading off the eighth with a homer against Louis Coleman. Mark Melancon then worked around Alex Gordon’s one-out single in the ninth for his first save of the season.
The Royals finished with 11 hits, including a three-run homer by Lorenzo Cain on a laser that cleared the Green Monster and capped a four-run fourth inning. Gordon, Perez and Abreu each had two hits.
It just wasn’t enough.
The Royals now need to win this afternoon to gain a split in the four-game wraparound series. They are currently 2-4 on a seven-game trip that began with two losses in three games at Tampa Bay.
Six of the first nine hitters reached safely against Smith, but he limited the damage to single runs in the first two innings. Cain’s three-run homer then boosted the Royals to a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
Boston closed to 4-3 on Ciriaco’s one-out homer in the fifth. Ellsbury followed by yanking a single through the right side before the Royals caught an enormous break when Abreu bobbled Pedroia’s potential double-play grounder to third.
Abreu recovered in time to throw to first — and got the call from umpire Dan Bellino. Replays confirmed Pedroia beat the throw easily. Bellino’s call brought Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine onto the field for a spirited protest — and eventual ejection.
Smith couldn’t cash the gift.
Ellsbury stole third before Smith put the go-ahead runner on base by walking Cody Ross. Boston pulled even when James Loney grounded an RBI single into center. It stayed 4-4 until the sixth.