Fielding miscues make KC's climb too steep

Fielding miscues make KC's climb too steep

Fielding miscues make KC's climb too steep
BOSTON -- Royals fans have become spoiled watching the fielding exploits of shortstop Alcides Escobar. He's made spectacular plays seem routine. So when he makes errors on a couple of rather routine plays, it's a spectacular exception.

That's what happened on Sunday when Escobar's two errors proved costly in the Royals' 8-6 loss to the Red Sox on a cloudless, pleasant 76-degree afternoon at Fenway Park.

"You don't see that very often," manager Ned Yost said. "We struggled to catch the ball today and didn't, and had to pay for it."

In fact, that was Escobar's first two-error game in his two seasons with the Royals.

First baseman Eric Hosmer, another superb fielder, missed a soft line drive that was ruled a hit but also hurt the Royals.

Escobar's first error, on a short-hop grounder by Mauro Gomez, opened the sixth inning when the score was tied at 4. Gomez later scored the tie-breaking run. In the seventh, Escobar missed Scott Podsednik's hot grounder with two outs and the bases loaded, leading to two runs.

"I'm trying to block the ball right in front of me and the ball beat me," Escobar said. "That's a hard situation right now for me. I'm really sad because two errors in one game is really bad for me."

All three of those runs were counted as unearned, but they resulted in a 7-4 lead for the Red Sox.

"They were both tough plays. The first one skipped up on him, the second one was hit hard. I think it was a little tough to see out of the shadows," Yost said. "It was like the ball, when [reliever Tim] Collins was pitching, on the line drive to Hosmer."

In the sixth, after Escobar's error, Mike Aviles singled and Collins relieved Royals starter Will Smith. He got two outs, but Jacoby Ellsbury's liner fooled Hosmer and it went off his glove for an RBI single.

"It was a lot slower than I thought," Hosmer said. "I thought it was hit a lot harder off the bat. I jumped too early for it."

In the seventh, the Red Sox loaded the bases against reliever Jeremy Jeffress on two singles and a walk, but he got the second out by fanning Aviles. That's when Podsednik sent a shot right at Escobar, who couldn't handle the ball and a run scored.

"That was forgotten right after it happened," Jeffress said. "I don't worry about that."

Pedro Ciriaco followed with an RBI single off Jeffress to give the Red Sox a lead that they would keep. Dustin Pedroia supplied a two-run cushion when he led off the eighth with a home run against Louis Coleman.

All of the Royals' scoring came in two innings.

Two-out runs are all the rage for the Royals. In Saturday night's 12-inning, 10-9 victory they scored their last seven runs in two-out rallies. In the fourth inning on Sunday, they were at it again.

Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront got two outs before Johnny Giavotella, Hosmer and Tony Abreu each singled to push in a run. Then, on a 1-0 pitch, Lorenzo Cain deposited a drive just into the Green Monster seats for a three-run homer for a 4-2 lead.

"It definitely felt good, but the most important at-bat was the last at-bat, and I didn't come through," Cain said.

His last at-bat came in the eighth inning. With the Red Sox ahead by three runs, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs against reliever Pedro Beato. He was replaced by Craig Breslow. The Royals got two runners home, on Hosmer's sacrifice fly and Abreu's single, before Cain was caught looking at strike three to end it.

"I should have swung," he lamented.

Smith's start lasted into the sixth inning. He was charged with five runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks.

"It just wasn't there today," Smith said. "Couldn't get anybody out. Gave up a lot of base hits."

Smith was still in the game when a Royals defensive glitch led to the ouster of Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in the fifth inning. Third baseman Abreu bobbled Pedroia's hopper before throwing to first base where, at least in Valentine's view, Hosmer withdrew his foot from the bag well before catching the ball. Umpire Dan Bellino, though, called Pedroia out, and Valentine was so incensed that he almost fell on his face as he charged from the dugout.

Reaching the umpire, Valentine gestured so wildly and dramatically with -- apparently -- such colorful dialogue that Bellino decided to eject the skipper. For Bobby V, it was his fifth ejection this year and 42nd of his career.

"I didn't try to get kicked out. I didn't really get upset until I did get kicked out," Valentine said. "I was just voicing an opinion. We all have them."

Even without Valentine, the Red Sox -- a day after their franchise-shaking blockbuster trade with the Dodgers and the draining 12-inning loss -- managed to bounce back for a victory.

That evened the season series between the two clubs at 3-3; they'll settle it on Monday afternoon's finale at Fenway Park.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.