Albers: Right man, wrong pitch location

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Albers: Right man, wrong pitch location

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."

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.