For nearly three weeks, the Red Sox stared at the calendar and saw their day off Thursday as the light at the end of the tunnel. The Sox got to the end of a run of 17 games in as many days and breathed a sigh of relief.
“It wasn’t easy, but we ‘survived,’ and now we’re ready to go again,” manager Alex Cora said.
But after the getting the much-needed rest day the Sox came out at Kauffman Stadium and looked as lifeless.
Nick Pivetta overcame his first-inning issues, but still gave up a three-run homer to Adalberto Mondesi in the third inning that gave the Royals more than enough room to work with. And with the Sox lineup struggling to crack any of the arms the Royals threw at them, Kansas City was able to walk away with a 5-3 win Friday night.
“Just kind of like a weird game, right?” Cora said. “We had a lot of traffic out there. I don’t know, just felt like off. For a 5-3 game, it was like, ‘OK, cool.’ It just didn’t feel right, in a sense.”
The Sox outhit their hosts, 11-10, but went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base.
The loss snapped the Sox’s six-game road win streak. The Royals broke up a six-game losing streak.
464 feet for Adalberto Mondesi. 😳 pic.twitter.com/BwaN51mxdt— MLB (@MLB) June 19, 2021
Pivetta went five innings and struck out six batters, but gave up six hits and three walks and was doomed by the three-run homer. He now has a 5.97 ERA in his last six games after having a 3.16 in his first eight.
“Last five starts, I think I’ve just given up a little bit more runs than I usually have, a couple more home runs couple more big innings here and there,” Pivetta said.
The Sox watched scoring opportunities pass them by.
They had runners on first and second in the second inning after Hunter Renfroe and Christian Vazquez delivered back-to-back one-out singles. But Marwin Gonzalez grounded into a double play to end the inning.
After Danny Santana and Christian Arroyo started the third frame with base hits, Alex Verdugo cashed in with an RBI single that plated Santana and gave the Sox a 1-0 lead.
But Arroyo’s hesitation on the base paths cost the Sox a chance at more runs. J.D. Martinez shot a ground ball to the left side that Royals third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez fired to second for the force out. Arroyo flinched at third before making his break for home, and that second-guess gave Royals second baseman Nicky Lopez enough time to throw out Arroyo at the plate. Arroyo didn’t even slide.
“It’s one of those that if you see the ground ball, you just take off, right?” Cora said. “If they want to get one out at the plate, then you still have first and second and one out. He froze with the line drive. He took off, he stopped, and then he took off again.
“We talked about it: If you’re going to stop, just get back, get to the bag, let him turn the double play, it’s a man at third and two outs and we’ll take our chances. But it’s one of those that we’ll talk about it.”
There was no denying the play’s significance in hindsight.
“Looking at it, it was kind of an awkward play,” Arroyo said. “The last thing I want to do is just take off on contact and get doubled up at third. I kind of looked back and saw that he kind of took a look at me and then I took a step back, and as soon as he threw to second I took off, and Lopez just made a good play. "
The inning ended with Xander Bogaerts grounding out to short.
Mondesi’s three-run shot to right in the bottom of the inning gave the Royals a 3-1 lead.
Martinez closed the gap in the fifth with an RBI single to center off lefthander Kris Bubic.
The Royals got the run back an inning later on an RBI double from Whit Merrifield, then tacked on more insurance in the seventh on a solo homer to right by Salvador Perez.
18 homers for Salvy. 👀— MLB (@MLB) June 19, 2021
What an incredible season he is having. 💪 pic.twitter.com/NtfstAKHJa
Rafael Devers’s kept the Sox in striking distance in the eighth with his 17th homer of the season, a solo shot to center on a 0-and-2 fastball.
But the ninth brought nothing but more frustration. Arroyo was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Wolf after striking out looking at an inside fastball. At that point, the called strike was the last straw in a frustrating night for Arroyo. He could still think of close calls that didn’t go his way throughout the game and it ultimately boiled over.
“It was frustrating to have that many calls against me” Arroyo said. “Personally, I know that there was — haven’t really checked any of our other guys at bats and I haven’t really talked to anyone and seen if they felt like they’d gotten some pitches called — but I just know, for me personally, that there were some missed calls. It’s part of the game, though, it is what it is.
“But I don’t look at Jim any differently. I’m going to talk with him tomorrow and say, ‘Hey, sorry that that went down.’ Obviously, I’m not a person that’s looking to get ejected out of a game or anything. But it was frustrating in the moment.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.