The Red Sox fell to the Royals Wednesday, dropping both the game and the series to Kansas City in a night where defense decided the outcome.
The tone was set from the very beginning of the game, as Jon Lester saw a two-out, nobody on situation fall apart after a walk to Billy Butler and seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. Still, he appeared to have the frame in hand when he induced a fly ball to center off the bat of Johnny Giavotella, but Marlon Byrd completely misplayed the ball, coming in much too far and having the ball clang off his glove when he was forced to make a leaping attempt, allowing one run to come in. Two more would quickly follow when Cody Ross had the ball pop from his glove and off the wall after a running grab.
The Sox would recover in the third inning when Adrian Gonzalez unloaded the bases with a double, but quickly fell back behind by one when Lester gave up his only earned run of the night. That's when the Royals defense came out to help them win the game, with Alex Gordon robbing Dustin Pedroia of extra bases with a leaping grab against the wall and Alcides Escobar stealing a hit from David Ortiz when he went to the air himself to pull down a line drive up the middle.
Boston threatened again come the ninth, but as before it was the Kansas City defense saving the day, with Alex Gordon sliding to pick a Ryan Sweeney line drive inches from the ground with runners on second and third. With Mike Aviles grounding out softly, the game ended with the Sox behind 4-3.
Middlebrooks Missing: For once, Will Middlebrooks does not play the hero at any point, going 0-for-4 out of the fifth spot. We'll likely see how he reacts to his first struggle at the plate--if you can even call it that--tomorrow against the Indians.
Adrian Gonzalez Keeps It Going: He was just 1-for-4, but with that one hit a solid, clutch double and one of the outs coming on a long fly ball, Gonzalez seems not to have lost whatever he had going for him on Tuesday, when he recorded two very solid hits.
Defensive Replacements: One consequence of the injuries that has really been overlooked so far is the defensive loss the Sox have suffered. While Carl Crawford obviously had his struggles last year, and the switch at third base has unquestionably provided a positive change, having Jacoby Ellsbury at center rather than Marlon Byrd would almost certainly have changed this from a loss to a win.