Closing Time: Andrew Miller’s bases-loaded walk allows for Royals doubleheader sweep
|04.21.13 at 10:17 pm ET|
For the Red Sox, Sunday definitely bore no resemblance to Saturday.
After the dramatics that came with the Sox’ series-opening win, the Royals rebounded to sweep the teams’ doubleheader Sunday. The day was capped for the visitors with a 5-4, 10-inning victory, one which was locked down when Andrew Miller issued a bases-loaded walk to Lorenzo Cain.
It marks the second time this season the Red Sox have lost back-to-back games, with John Farrell’s club dropping to 12-6.
“Felt pretty good tonight. Lost those two hitters. Just, not doing my job and I know that right now the way i’m throwing the ball, guys are going to work counts and see pitches,” said Miller, who came on to pitch the 10th inning after Andrew Bailey notched a perfect ninth. “I’ve got to be more aggressive in the strike zone and I’m not doing it. I got to pick up the slack on my end because everybody else is doing a great job. I’m just not doing my part.”
In his first major-league start Allen Webster showed off the dominant fastball-changeup combination that’s made him a promising part of the Red Sox’ future, but a few mistakes hurt him. And while Webster did leave with one-run lead, the victory was taken away from him thanks to the eighth-inning home run Billy Butler hit off of Koji Uehara, erasing the 4-3 lead the bullpen inherited.
Here is what went right and wrong for the Red Sox:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Webster’s impressive stuff was on display frequently, as his fastball hit 98 mph and generally clocked in around 94 or 95 mph. He also showed off a changeup that could be devastating, as it was when he froze Royals second baseman Elliot Johnson with one over the plate for strike three in the third inning. Webster finished giving up five hits, five strikeouts and one walk over six innings. Only two of the three runs he allowed were earned, as the first came after Pedro Ciriaco made a throwing error.
– The Sox offense, which missed a few crucial opportunities in Sunday’s first game, fared better in the second. Mike Napoli in particular came to life, blasting his third home run of the year over the Monster in the second inning.
Napoli also smashed a double off the center field wall that would have brought home Dustin Pedroia had Pedroia not been caught stealing immediately beforehand. He then brought home Daniel Nava with a line-drive single in the fifth to give the Sox a 4-3 lead.
Napoli has been heating up of late: he has hits in eight of his last nine, and he’s taken advantage of the hitters in front of him getting on base, with 11 RBIs in his last seven games.
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia also chipped in on offense, walking and scoring on a Mike Carp double in the second. He also singled in the third, although that hit was canceled out when Napoli got caught in a rundown between third and home to end the inning.
Saltalamacchia’s contribution, though understated, was especially noteworthy after he grounded out with the bases loaded to end a rally in Sunday’s first game, and even more so considering that he was 3 for his last 24 entering this game.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– When the Royals hit Webster, they hit him hard. Leadoff hitter Alex Gordon drove Webster’s first big-league pitch, a fastball, off the left field wall for a double, then took it a step further in the fifth inning, homering into the Monster.
– George Kottaras, who has 24 home runs in his six-year career, also took Webster deep in the fifth, taking advantage of another fastball left over the plate.
– Koji Uehara had an 18 1/3-inning scoreless streak snapped when he allowed a solo home run to Billy Butler in the eighth. It was Uehara’s first earned run of the 2013 season, and it came in his longest outing of the year: he threw 21 pitches, 14 for strikes.
– Will Middlebrooks‘ struggles at the plate continued. He went [0-for-4] and never hit the ball particularly hard, with a pop-up to short and three infield grounders. Since he hit three home runs and a double against Toronto on April 7, Middlebrooks is 3-for-38, with no extra-base hits and 19 strikeouts. The third baseman said after Sunday’s first game that he isn’t discouraged by his slump, and that he’d rather work it out by continuing to hit than by sitting out a game.
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