Sox lose 14-inning game to Royals, 3-1

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Sox lose 14-inning game to Royals, 3-1

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Apparently the Red Sox cant just beat up on the pathetic Mariners every single night.

The Sox certainly didnt play well enough to beat the Kansas City Royals, and played just badly enough in a rain-delayed 14th inning marathon session to lose by a 3-1 score at Fenway Park.

Mike Aviles pushed a run across with a squeeze bunt and an Alcides Escobar sacrifice fly to center field gave KC an insurance run while saddling reliever Randy Williams with his first loss as a member of the Sox.

The Sox had three chances in the final five innings to win the game with a runner on third base and less than two outs, but frustratingly came up empty each time in an impressive show of extra inning futility.

The Red Sox scored their lone run in the bottom of the second inning with two outs after Carl Crawford reached on a fielders choice. Crawford scampered to second base for his 11th stolen base of the season and then scored on a Josh Reddick double that was smoked to the gap between right field and center field.

Lester protected the one-run lead for nearly his entire return outing from a strained left lat, but faltered in the sixth inning as fatigue caught up to him. Melky Cabrera opened the frame up with a single and then scored all the way from first base on a Billy Butler double into the left field corner. Butler was gunned down trying to advance to third base, and Lesters night was over after 89 pitches when he walked Eric Hosmer as the next batter he faced.

Lester finished with 5 13 innings pitched and was strong in his first outing back from the left lat injury. He fanned Alex Gordon three times in three at bats and finished with six strikeouts and seven hits allowed while working into the sixth frame before handing things over to Matt Albers.

The Sox flirted with opportunities to win in the earlier innings, but Carl Crawford fanned with chances to win it for Boston in the ninth and eleventh inning. Marco Scutaro appeared to miss a squeeze signal with the winning run on third base in the bottom of the 12th frame, and Josh Reddick was gunned down between third base and home plate. Scutaro compounded the error by getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double for the third out of the inning.

Player of the Game: Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer collected three hits and scored the game-winning run in the 14th inning on a successful squeeze bunt by third baseman Mike Aviles. Hosmer got the decisive rally going by clubbing a double to left field off left-hander Randy Williams to lead off the final frame, and gave Kansas City some legitimate danger in the middle of their offensive lineup.

Honorable Mention: Melky Cabrera ended up on the winning side of things, but he rapped our four hits and was the most consistent offensive force for either team in the first game of the four-game series. Cabrera has been mentioned as a possible trading chip for the Royals with July 31 approaching, and perhaps his offensive outburst provided a little bit of a showcase for a Red Sox team searching for a right-handed hitting outfielder. It was Cabreras second four-hit game of the season. It also bears mentioning that he was thrown out twice attempting to steal by Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Goat: Marco Scutaro had a golden chance to end the game in the bottom of the 12th inning with Josh Reddick at third base and only one out. The Sox dugout called for a squeeze play and Scutaro failed to get the bunt down with Reddick charging in hard from third base on an inside fastball from reliever Louis Coleman. Reddick was dead between third base and home plate, and Scutaro worsened the situation by scorching a ball to left field and getting gunned down at second base for the third inning. Carl Crawford fanned with chances to win the game in the bottom of the ninth and 11th innings, but it was Scutaro that botched the golden opportunity.

Turning Point: Twice Carl Crawford came to the plate in the ninth and 11th innings with the winning run at third base, and twice the left fielder fanned to throw cold water on the rally. The at bat in the ninth inning was his poorest plate appearance since coming off the DL as he waved weakly at a pair of pitches before going down on a checked swing strike three call. If Crawford comes through in one of those two opportunities then nobody is talking about Scutaros botched squeeze play or the 14th inning.

By the Numbers: 2:21 the time of rain delay before the Red Sox and Royals finally got down to business after 9:30 p.m. at Fenway Park on an unseasonably chilly July evening at the ballpark.

Quote of Note: I bleeped it up. We had a lot of opportunities to win this game today and we didnt do the little things. We missed signs and we didnt get runs home from third base. We threw this one away pretty much. Marco Scutaro when asked what was going through his mind after he realized that he missed a squeeze sign and Josh Reddick was in no mans land between third base and home plate in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''