The Red Sox fell to the Royals 6-4 Tuesday night, leaving their winning streak over at all of one game.
The Sox took an early 2-0 lead in the second, with Will Middlebrooks doubling down the right field line to start the rally. Singles from Marlon Byrd and Kelly Shoppach would score Middlebrooks before walks from Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia pushed across another run.
Daniel Bard would have a mostly successful night, but ran into serious difficulties in the bottom half of the second that hurt his final line quite a bit. After a single and a walk put two on with zero outs, Bard offered up two balks to score one runner and move the other to third. Another single tied the game, and a terribly wild pitch sailed very high and behind the batter, moving the runner to second and allowing him to score on a fourth single.
Unfortunately for the Sox, Will Middlebrooks had to leave the game after the top of the second, having aggravated his hamstring running out his double. This would cost the Sox as, after Cody Ross and Adrian Gonzalez walked to start the third, Nick Punto grounded into a double play killing a promising rally prematurely. While Boston would manage to tie the game in the fourth and then take the lead in the fifth, it would prove a costly waste.
That's because, with Bard tiring in the eighth, the Royals started the inning with two quick walks. Bobby Valentine elected to turn to Matt Albers, who had been doing his usual thing, which is to say pretending to be good so he can revert to his career form at the worst possible moment. Albers, meet worst possible moment. On his third pitch to Billy Butler, Albers left a fat fastball middle-middle. Butler took full advantage, launching a loud homer to left to give the Royals the 6-4 lead--one they did not surrender in the ninth, sending the Sox back into the loss column.
Adrian's Back: He didn't go deep, but Adrian Gonzalez showed some very positive signs of life, reaching base three times with a walk, a loud double to center, and a line drive single up the middle on a very nice swing. It's what the first baseman has really needed: strong contact that suggests he's back to his old ways once and for all. He looked like Adrian.
The Other Bard: The Daniel Bard we're most familiar with is a strikeout machine, throwing heat and using a strong slider to get swings and misses. Tonight was a different Bard who we've seen on a couple of occasions this year. Not fully comfortable in his slider, he instead used fastballs--mixing two-seamers with four--to induce ground balls and weak contact. But for the second and eighth, he would have left with a very impressive performance.
Missing Middlebrooks: Looking back at that third inning is a pretty big "what if" moment for the Red Sox. Unfortunately, we'll never know how different the game would have been had had Middlebrooks stayed in. For now, they just have to hope he's back tomorrow--he seemed to have been lifted largely as a precaution.