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Closing Time: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

04.09.10 at 11:21 pm ET
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It was a night that would have been a celebration of Tim Wakefield. The Red Sox starter raced through five shutout innings to start the game and, after permitting back-to-back homers in the bottom of the sixth, rebounded to deliver a crisp 10-pitch seventh to entrust a 3-2 lead to his bullpen against the Royals.

Yet Hideki Okajima, back in Kansas City — the site of his big league debut, where he allowed a homer on the first pitch he ever threw in a major league game — failed to help Wakefield secure his 176th career win as a Red Sox. Instead, he permitted the first batter he faced (David DeJesus) to hit a double. That set in motion a Royals uprising that resulted in Rick Ankiel’s game-winning two-run single to center off of Daniel Bard, sent the Sox to a 4-3 loss and amplified questions that are quickly forming about the Boston bullpen.

Key Play of the Game

Though Bard’s 98 mph heater shattered his bat, Ankiel fisted a single into shallow center with runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the eighth to turn the Sox’ one-run lead into a one-run loss. It was the second straight game in which a Sox opponent won in its last at-bat.

What Went Right for the Sox

–Wakefield was efficient and dazzling, going seven innings and allowing six hits and a walk while striking out six. Aside from the back-to-back homers he allowed with two outs in the sixth to Ankiel (who went 4-for-4) and Billy Butler, Wakefield was tremendous. He threw 96 pitches.

–JD Drew hit a colossal shot to center, a two-run homer for his first round-tripper of the season.

–Mike Cameron reached base three times, collecting a pair of singles and a walk.

What Went Wrong for the Sox

–The bullpen again struggled, allowing a pair of runs in an inning. The Sox bullpen has recorded every one of the team’s decisions this year, going 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA.

–The absence of reliable middle relief options may be taking an early toll. Though the Sox have had a pair of off days, it is noteworthy that Bard has appeared in all four games thus far. Still, his stuff was excellent, as he recorded a key strikeout of Butler with one out and a runners on first and third before giving up the game-winning hit on a nasty fastball to Ankiel.

–The Sox lineup continued its futility with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-8 in such circumstances.

–David Ortiz got ejected for arguing a third-strike checked swing. Though he served a double to left against a shift, he had a pair of strikeouts in going 1-for-3, and the ejection seemed a display of mounting frustration.

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