A botched suicide squeeze left the Sox losers after fourteen innings Monday night, as the Royals took a surprising victory off the Red Sox.
The starts that would eventually be forgotten come the end of the game were virtually the same. Jon Lester was strong in his return, striking out five batters in the first three innings. He faltered as his pitch count rose. Ultimately, it seems as though Terry Francona opted to stay with his returning starter for one inning too many, allowing Lester to return to the mound after five shutout innings. The lefty promptly allowed a single to Melky Cabrera, and then a double to Billy Butler, who was caught trying to take third. The damage had been done, however, and a walk to Eric Hosmer spelled the end for Reddick's night.
Had the Red Sox offense been doing its job, the one run may not have been so impactful, but somehow they had managed to allow Kyle Davies to match Lester's start--even surpassing it. The only run against Davies came in the second, when Josh Reddick doubled Carl Crawford home from second to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, from there the Sox lineup went into hibernation, allowing Davies to escape the game with just one earned run in six innings, and making Cabrera's run to tie the game.
With neither side scoring in the last three innings, the game went into extra innings, and that's where things went from bad to worse.
Having already wasted an opportunity with men at the corners and one out in the ninth, the Sox set about botching four separate opportunities to walk off against the Royals. The first failure came in the eleventh, when with two men on and two out, Carl Crawford struck out swinging. In the thirteenth, Yamaico Navarro--inserted into the game after Kevin Youkilis left before the eighth with a balky hamstring--popped out with Jacoby Ellsbury on third base and one out. David Ortiz grounded into the shift on the very next pitch to end the threat.
But by far the biggest mistake came in the twelfth. With Josh Reddick reaching base to start the inning, and then taking second and third on a botched pickoff attempt, Terry Francona decided to call for a suicide squeeze. Josh Reddick got the message, Marco Scutaro didn't, and the young outfielder was dead meat on the basepaths.
Had any of these opportunities led to runs, then the Sox would not have had to send Randy Williams in to pitch the fourteenth with an inning already on his arm. But the Sox didn't take advantage, and they did have to send Williams in. The result was as could be expected: a double, a single, and then, of all things, a sky-high squeeze bunt that actually managed to produce the necessary run. The Royals added a third for insurance, and the Sox took one of their toughest losses of the year on the chin.