The Red Sox and Royals are ready to decide their series with a Wednesday night rubber match, as Jon Lester takes on Bruce Chen in Kauffman Stadium.
We'll keep you up-do-date on all the action as it goes down in Kansas City.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, Final -- Just as defense lost the game for the Red Sox in the first, it won the game for the Royals in the ninth. After Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the inning with a single and a walk, Marlon Byrd bunted them along to second and third, bringing Ryan Sweeney to the plate with a chance to tie the game or even put the Sox ahead. And, for a second there, it looked like he had. After a long at bat, Sweeney lined a ball into left field that seemed for all the world destined for the grass until Alex Gordon made a last-second dive and came up with it, far too shallow for the pinch-running Darnell McDonald to score from third. With Mike Aviles grounding out weakly to second, the game was over.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, End 8th -- The Royals get even closer to scoring off of Clayton Mortensen, but a strong relay from Cody Ross, to Mike Aviles, to Jarrod Saltalamacchia leaves Irving Falu out at the plate by a mile.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, Mid 8th -- David Ortiz is one unlucky man, lining out again as Jarrod Dyson goes into a slide to grab his rocket in center field. Two more quick outs, and the Sox are in need of production from the bottom of the order if they're going to avoid losing a series to the lowly Royals.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, End 7th -- Clayton Mortensen escapes the seventh unharmed after a one-out double. In a season bullpen surprises good and bad, Mortensen has so far been among the best.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, Mid 7th -- A 2-out single from Mike Aviles is wasted as Dustin Pedroia flies out on the first pitch. Frankly, it might have been better to have Aviles just get out, so as to have Pedroia - Ortiz - Gonzalez in the eighth. Then again, he did get out, so maybe not.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, End 6th -- Clayton Mortensen continues to do nothing but record outs. The Royals go 1-2-3 like the Sox before them, as Mortensen does the job of keeping the game within reach.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, Mid 6th -- The Royals don't need quite so impressive a defensive performance in the sixth to retire the side in order. Hopefully this is just a sign that the Sox need the top of their order up, and not that they're shutting down for the night.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, End 5th -- Lester gets a quiet 1-2-3 inning, but with his pitch count high that's likely it for his night. Bad defense in the first cost him what could have been a very nice outing, but he'll still leave with just one earned in five innings of work.
Then again, this is Bobby V. we're talking about. Who can say?
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, Mid 5th -- Bruce Chen dodges some serious bullets in the fifth. Dustin Pedroia takes him all the way to the wall in left, where Alex Gordon has to make a leaping grab to save at least extra bases. David Ortiz follows that up with a line drive up the middle where Alcides Escobar makes his own fancy snag for the second out. Adrian Gonzalez is last up and makes the least impressive contact, but still gets the ball a long ways to left-center before having it find a glove.
That easily could have been a crooked number on the board. Instead, it's a goose egg.
Red Sox 3, Royals 4, End 4th -- The Royals, on the other hand, do not waste their chances. Irving Falu's double comes out of the leadoff spot, but it's the double from Alcides Escobar that spells the difference rather than simply the timing, scoring Falu from third with ease.
Red Sox 3, Royals 3, Mid 4th -- A double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia with one out goes for naught, with Ryan Sweeney striking out trying to check his swing and Mike Aviles grounding out weakly to end the inning after Marlon Byrd gets plunked.
Red Sox 3, Royals 3, End 3rd -- Some difficult sailing for Lester in the third, as he surrenders some decent contact for a couple of line drives. The first leads off the inning, putting Billy Butler on first. The second comes with two outs, but ends in the glove of a sliding Ryan Sweeney, who is about the only trustworthy outfielder on the team right about now.
Actually, Darnell McDonald has been on fire defensively of late, so scratch that.
Red Sox 3, Royals 3, Mid 3rd -- The Royals are doing their best Red Sox impression! Hooray! After Marlon Byrd and Ryan Sweeney, in his first start against a left-handed pitcher this year drop singles into left field, Dustin Pedroia hits a pop-up which has Billy Butler chasing the ball well back of first in foul territory, only to have it drop in well to his left in fair territory, loading the bases with one out.
David Ortiz, unfortunately, looked very much unlike Ortiz in his at bat, not seeing the ball well out of Chen's hand and striking out on a bad pitch up-and-in. Luckily, however, Adrian Gonzalez seems to be all the way back. Even though he wasn't seeing the ball terribly well either, he managed to time his swing perfectly on a 3-2 pitch, hitting a line shot to right field to clear the bases and tie the game.
Red Sox 0, Royals 3, End 2nd -- Chris Getz leads off the inning with a seeing-eye single to left--the second Jon Lester has endured so far today--but the rest of the Royals go down in easy fashion as Lester records his second strikeout and manages to avoid any more defensive mishaps.
Red Sox 0, Royals 3, Mid 2nd -- Bruce Chen records two strikeouts and a swinging bunt on the Red Sox in the second. It bears mentioning that in his career Bruce Chen has not been a very good pitcher, and is very much the sort of junkballer the Sox have been jumping all over of late. Not good.
Red Sox 0, Royals 3, End 1st -- What a disaster of an inning for the Red Sox. After Lester quickly records two outs, including a strikeout of Alex Gordon, Billy Butler manages to work a long at bat and draw a walk to keep the inning going. Jeff Francoeur takes advantage by placing a ground ball perfectly through the left side of the infield, but Lester still seems to be out of it when a fliner heads straight for Marlon Byrd in center.
Except Marlon Byrd, as he has been wont to do of late, makes an absolutely terrible read, comes in a few feet, has to jump to try and catch the ball, and instead has it clang off his glove, allowing Butler to score. The next batter, Brayan Pena, sends a long fly ball to left field, where Cody Ross seems to have run it down, right up until the ball pops up and out of his glove as he swings his arm forward. Ross still manages to corral it, but only after it's bounced off the wall, turning another third out into a double, and costing the Sox another pair of runs.
This is where the idea of curses comes from.
Red Sox 0, Royals 0, Mid 1st -- A good start for the Sox quickly goes by the wayside, as Mike Aviles' leadoff single is wasted by a couple of weak fly balls from Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, and a strike out from David Ortiz. That's a good start for Bruce Chen, who hasn't been pitching all that well this year.