Royals 4 Red Sox 3
Winning Pitcher: Luke Hochevar (7-8)
Losing Pitcher: Josh Beckett (9-4)
Save: Joakim Soria (19)
Josh Beckett actually pitched really well today if you happened to be busy during the top of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for Beckett and the Red Sox, the official scorer left his schedule open during this point of the game, and the Royals won the game 4-3, scoring all four runs in the fourth inning. If you take out that fourth inning, Beckett went 6 shutout innings, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out eight. His pitches seemed to all be going pretty well, with his fastball maxing out at 95.5 MPH, and consistently hitting 94. He generally located his fastballs well too, throwing them for strikes 69% of the time. His other stuff wasn't erratic either, as he threw 66% of his total pitches for strikes. Of course, you can't just eliminate a single inning, and the Royals made Beckett pay for his subpar fourth. He led the inning off by getting into two consecutive full counts, and each at bat ended in a walk. Billy Butler then walked up to the plate with his team trailing 2-0. On one swing of the bat, the Royals had the lead as Butler took Beckett's pitch to straightaway center and over the fence. Amazingly, that home run was the first homer Josh Beckett has ever given up to the Royals in his entire career. After going seven consecutive starts without giving up a long ball, Beckett has now given up six in his last eight. When it seemed the inning couldn't get any work, Drew Sutton tracked down a fly ball to the warning track in left, but it bounced off the heel of the glove, and Jeff Francoeur jogged into second on the error. Surprisingly, Beckett allowed Sutton to walk off the field unharmed. A Mike Moustakas double scored Francouer, and the 4th inning massacre (a bit hyperbolic, maybe?) would end there. It could have been worse, however. Chris Getz came up with men on first and third and one out, and Beckett was clearly on the ropes. However, it being the Royals and all, Getz inexplicably squared to bunt and Beckett recorded the out, and got out of the inning without any further damage. He tossed 38 pitches in the frame.
- The Red Sox scored two of their runs in a nice third inning. Jason Varitek led off the inning with a single, Yamaico Navarro hit a double, and then the red-hot Jacoby Ellsbury hit both in with a single. Ellsbury now has 12 RBI in the 13 games since the All Star break, quite the feat for a leadoff hitter. Of course, playing in this ridiculous lineup doesn't hurt, either.
- Don't worry, I didn't forget about Dustin Pedroia. Everyone's favorite diry fowl was able to extend his hit streak in the most dramatic of fashions, making it 25 games, the longest ever for a Red Sox second baseman. He was still hit-less as he walked up to the plate in the eighth, the team down 4-2. In one swing of the bat, Pedroia took our breaths away as he pounded a ball that looked like a routine fly ball off the bat into the Monster Seats, cutting the deficit to one.
- It looked as if we may have a new Mr. Clutch in Boston. In May, Carl Crawford had a mini-streak where it seemed as if every hit he had was a big one. He didn't start today, but he came up with a man on in the 9th, trailing by one. He sent a pitch to deep right field (it looked better off the bat than Pedroia's did), but the ball was knocked down by the wind and dropped into Francoeur's glove.
- The Red Sox were shut down by Luke Hochevar for much of the game. He gave up the two runs on the Ellsbury single, but was very good other than that. Coming into the game, his xFIP was a full run lower than his ERA, so you knew he was better than his stats. Today, though, he pitched even better than that. He gave up just six hits and a walk in 7 innings, and struck out six batters.
The Red Sox travel to play the White Sox to start a three game series tomorrow night at 8:10 PM ET. Boston will send Tim Wakefield (6-3 5.15) to the mound against Chicago's Gavin Floyd (8-9 4.11).