April 20, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew (7) bobbles a ground ball but still makes throw for an out during the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox double dipped by Royals


Between games of the Red Sox and Royals Day/Night double-header this afternoon, I found myself at the playground with my young son on the grounds of the school that he attends – and soon we were joined by one of his friends who produced some candy and readily shared it with Jake.

My boy’s friend offered me some, so I asked what he had, to which he replied,  “Doggy chocolates”.

Poop jokes.  They know no age limit, no race nor religious implications – just good old American humor, which I hit them back with when we crossed the street to get a double scoop cold stone ice cream.

There were 18 flavors of premium ice cream to choose from and rows and rows of toppings, plus a half dozen different sauces, all lined up in clear squeeze bottles.  These people don’t screw around, and when they get flying with the mixture on the frozen marble sheet, they look like one of those Japanese chefs that toss shrimp in people’s mouths…

…we waited for a few minutes and watched the ice cream guy/secret Japanese chef ply his trade, seriously debating the merits of crushed butterfingers with cookie dough ice cream, then when it was our turn, I told the guy what I wanted, then ordered for the kids – with extra doggy chocolates…

…which is pretty much what Red Sox fans got today, the Sox dropping both ends of the double scoop – and for the first time in this young season, Boston started to show some of the vulnerability that caused many an expert to write them off before the season even started.

Thus far – with the exception of whatever they put in their ice cream in Toronto – the Red Sox have been making their living off of small ball.  The power bats show up sporadically (and in Toronto), but not often enough to really scare anyone.  Of Boston’s 15 home runs, eight came in a two game power surge against Blue Jays’ pitching.  They have just seven park jobs in the other sixteen games that they’ve played…

…and that’s ok, it’s who they are – but it doesn’t give one much confidence going into the bottom of the ninth and down two runs, which is where the Sox found themselves in the first game.  Sox starter Ryan Dempster was cruising along until he gave up a couple of singles and a double to start the top of the fourth that tied the game at 2-2, then struck out two batters before Salvador Perez touched him for a two run single to break the game open.

Both pitchers went seven innings and both gave up six hits before relenting to their respective bullpens.  The Red Sox managed to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth but, despite having the heart of the order come to the plate, Jarrod Saltalamaccia grounded weakly to short and the threat was abated…and once the Royals got closer Greg Holland on the mound, the Sox went meekly in the bottom of the ninth to end the 4-2 game, snapping a 7 game winning streak…

The nightcap featured the vulnerability of this pitching staff and, while it’s not as pronounced as the offense showed in the afternoon game, it proved to be their undoing under the lights at Fenway Park.

And it really had nothing to do with spot-starter Allen Webster, who had been called up from triple A Pawtucket for the game under the option protection that affords a team a 26th roster spot for a double header, and the Sox obviously welcomed the opportunity to see Webster pitch in a major league game as well as keep their rotation on proper rest.

Webster pitched well enough to leave the game in line for the victory after giving a solid six inning performance, giving up five hits – two of them park jobs, unfortunately.  But Junichi Tazawa got the Sox to the eighth, handing the ball over to uber-reliable Koji Uehara, who showed the rust of having a couple of days off, Giving up a monster blast to Billy Butler to knot the game at 4-4…

Andrew Bailey pitched a perfect top of the ninth and the Sox managed to get two on for Mike Napoli in the bottom of the inning, and he narrowly missed winning the game in walk off style, but his drive to center came up short on the track and the game went into extra cantos…

…where the fifth Sox pitcher of the night, Andrew Miller, loaded the bases in the top of the 10th, then walked Lorenzo Cain, plating Alex Gordon for a 5-4 Royals win as, again, Greg Holland collected his second save of the day in impressive fashion, striking out the side.

All of this is not to say that the Red Sox’ collapse is inevitable – quite the contrary.  The team is manufacturing the runs that they need as long as the pitching holds up, but a little more power at the plate would make things a little easier…

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