KANSAS CITY -- Matt Albers was the logical choice in the eighth inning Tuesday night.
He just wasn't the successful choice.
Albers, who has a terrific sinker and had made seven straight scoreless appearances, was brought in with runners on first and second and no outs and Billy Butler due for the Kansas City Royals, who trailed 4-3.
With one swing, Butler changed that in a hurry, belting a pitch from Albers deep into the seats in left for a three-run homer that brought the Royals a 6-4 win over the Red Sox.
"I'm trying to go down-and-away right there," explained Albers, "which I think is the right pitch. I can sit here and second-guess, but if I just execute . . . I didn't stay back over the rubber quite enough and the ball leaked over the plate and (Butler) is a good hitter.
"I've faced him a few times and gotten him to roll over on sinkers in and down-and-away. That's what I was trying to do right there and the ball just leaked over the plate. It didn't really run much. It kind of stayed straight and got right down the middle of the plate and he made us play."
Albers entered the game with an ERA of 1.29 and WHIP of 0.86, having strung together 9 23 innings of scoreless ball. Over his last 13 13 innings, he had given up just one run and for the season, he had held opposing righthanded hitters to a .138 (4-for-29) batting average and had stranded seven of the nine inherited runners.
"I didn't think there was an alternative," said Bobby Valentine. "Albers had pitched great. I had Matt ready just in case something happened. Something happened."
"That was the pitch I wanted," concluded Albers. "I just have to execute a little better. I know he's trying to do damage in that situation and I can use that to my advantage. But the ball didn't get where I wanted and he hit it."
Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis.
Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time.
The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.
Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball.
Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer. And…
US ambassador to Japan?
Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.
The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons.
When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team."
Would he be interested?
"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.
Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.
Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.