Not saying that Melancon can't close — he's simply not part of that role anymore with the Red Sox, who have Andrew Bailey and Alfredo Aceves. But with Bailey and other pitchers overworked and Aceves having excused himself for three games due to behavior, Melancon got a chance to go back to closing, at least for a day.
Overall, the Red Sox can leave today with a good feeling. They had every reason to work themselves out of this game, but both the hitting and pitching were admirable in piecing together this win. The bats fought back from a deficit, Felix Doubront (seven strikeouts) salvaged what could have been a poor start, and Pedro Beato and the rest of the bullpen held tight to record the win.
The offense was particularly on a roll. Although it didn't feel like a slugfest, with the Sox scoring most of their runs on singles here and there, every member of the lineup had a hit except for Mauro Gomez, who drew two walks and scored both times.
That's it for us today. Come on back tomorrow a Monday matinee. The game is at 1:35 p.m., meaning we'll have some pregame scoops for you at 12:30 on NESN, and in the live blog throughout the day.
End 8th, Red Sox 8-6: Louis Coleman is pretty filthy.
In 14 pitches, he struck out Cody Ross, James Loney and Ryan Lavarnway, and he looked pretty good doing it.
But Coleman was not flawless, and the Red Sox have that insurance run I was calling for at the break thanks to Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia, whose stress meter is pretty high today, took out some frustration and general hatred on an up-and-in pitch, launching a home run that gives Boston a two-run edge.
Don't poke the beast — even if it's a beast the size of Pedroia.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 7-6: Craig Breslow makes like Harry Houdini and gets out(s).
Breslow had quite the task before him, coming on in relief with the bases loaded. He got two outs then looked like he was going to give the lead away, but he dug deep for a huge strikeout to just keep Boston ahead.
The Red Sox are very fortunate coming out of that inning with the lead. The sacrifice fly that scored the first run could have easily turned into a three-run double or error, as Cody Ross had completely lost it in the sun when he stuck his glove out and managed to catch the ball on the grass. That got the second out, and although it didn't keep a run from tagging up and scoring, Ross was very fortunate to bail the Sox out with that lucky grab.
Dustin Pedroia, Cody Ross and James Loney are due up to try for some insurance runs.
4:37 p.m.: James Loney may have been expected to get most of the attention as the newest Red Sox arrival today, but Pedro Beato has done very well in showing that he could be valuable to this club, too.
Beato, who was called up mostly for insurance as the Boston bullpen recovers from a few rough days, was unstoppable for a while today. He was just clipping through two innings, allowing just one hit while striking out two.
He hit a little more trouble in this frame, giving up two hits and a walk to load the bases with no outs. That means it's time for Craig Breslow (1.86 ERA). Manager Bobby Valentine will likely have him finish it off, unless he hits serious trouble.
Otherwise, Beato was a lifesaver for the Sox, who didn't have many options coming into today.
End 7th, Red Sox 7-4: That's another strong inning for the Red Sox, who have shown a good deal of resilience today.
This inning was a team effort for Boston, which went through almost the whole order in pushing runs across one after one. Small ball can be nerve-wracking, but the Sox had what it took to make it work this inning. It may also be something Boston fans need to get used to seeing, especially with Adrian Gonzalez now out of the order, David Ortiz hurt, and Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia lacking their usual power. Fenway Park may be a small ball haven with manager Bobby Valentine for a bit until the club acquires some new sluggers.
Cody Ross got it started with a single to center. After James Loney grounded out, Ryan Lavarnway poked a single of his own. Mauro Gomez drew another walk — his second one today, and very good for a team that hasn't been as patient at the plate as it's been known for in recent years.
After a Mike Aviles strikeout, the real intrigue began. Scott Podsednik lashed a hard one toward second base, and Alcides Escobar was charged with his second error on the day. This one may not have been his fault, as it was a hard-hit ball that ranged behind the bag, but Ross scored, Lavarnway scooted to third, Gomez had no trouble getting second, and Podsednik was safe.
Pedro Ciriaco then did a great job outrunning an outfield single, scoring another run. Francisley Bueno came on in relief and got Jacoby Ellsbury to pop out, ending the inning, but the Sox scored two runs and now have a comfortable lead.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-4: Now they're rolling. Pedro Beato is doing just fine. He's struck out two, and Ryan Lavarnway gave him a hand and got the third out with a nice cutdown to second base to catch Alex Gordon stealing.
End 6th, Red Sox 5-4: The Red Sox are punching holes all through the Royals defense, and it's led to a couple of pitching changes and now the lead.
The Royals brought in Tim Collins to pitch after Will Smith's day was finished off by a Mike Aviles single after Mauro Gomez reached first. Gomez had sent a grounder to short, and Alcides Escobar let it go off his glove on a high hop and through his legs. When Aviles followed with his single, Smith left the game. He threw 90 pitches today, giving up four earned runs on nine hits.
With two men on base and Collins on the mound, Scott Podsednik and Pedro Ciriaco both went down, but Jacoby Ellsbury was up to the task. He punched one through second base into right field, scoring Gomez.
Ellsbury appeared to roll his ankle coming out of the box, though. No word on if he's hurt, but he's still in the game now.
Aaron Crow came in for Kansas City and retired Dustin Pedroia to end the inning.
Mid 6th, 4-4: Kelly Shoppach, er, Pedro Beato is now pitching for the Red Sox.
Beato was acquired from the Mets in the Shoppach trade earlier this month. He has a 10.38 ERA in seven games this year but appeared in 60 games last season with a 4.30 ERA.
He's done the trick for the Red Sox today, taking out Johnny Giavotella, Eric Hosmer and
Tony Abreu for a clean sixth.
End 5th, 4-4: Bobby Valentine didn't need any cue cards in that inning. He performed just as needed, and the Red Sox have responded.
James Loney has his first hit as a member of the Red Sox, and he made it count, tying the game up for Boston with a grounder up the middle. But that was merely the scoring part of the action.
Valentine was ejected from the game after really letting the first base umpire have it, and so he should have. Dustin Pedroia had clearly outrun a grounder — and Kansas City's Eric Hosmer had clearly come off the base trying to collect the putout throw — but somehow, Pedroia got called out.
Valentine bounded on the field and went for the throat, then stuck around for more yelling after he was tossed. He's been upset about calls before, but this one left no question, and it had to be especially hard to take considering how the season has gone for Valentine and the Red Sox.
But the Red Sox found a little something after Valentine left the field. Cody Ross drew a walk, then Loney took advantage of the guys Boston did have on base, lashing a grounder to score a run and keep the inning going.
Pedro Ciriaco had also homered, but that was before Valentine's fusillade. Perhaps the best part of the inning was that the groove that Will Smith had developed against the Sox lineup has completely disappeared.
Felix Doubront doesn't appear to be ready to come out for another inning, which means it's bullpen time — so maybe Valentine was doubly smart to get out of the game when he could. His coaching staff is going to have a juggling act on its hands the rest of the way.
Mid 5th, Royals 4-2: Felix Doubront took down Billy Butler, Salvador Perez and Jeff Francoeur in order in that inning. That's a good rebound, but Doubront is also up to 98 pitches. His day is likely over, which means the bullpen is going to have to eat the rest of this one.
End 4th, Royals 4-2: Will Smith looks pretty good for the Royals. Ryan Lavarnway, Mauro Gomez and Mike Aviles went down easily in that frame.
Mid 4th, Royals 4-2: Felix Doubront looked to have the upper hand today, but a few wayward pitches with two outs have now put the Sox in a hole.
Doubront notched two quick outs, then gave up three straight singles and the backbreaker — a home run over the Monster from Lorenzo Cain.
Doubront started the inning by inducing a groundout then struck out Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur seemed to echo Cody Ross's sentiment with the home plate umpire — he had some words after striking out and running his string of futility to 0-for-10 this weekend.
Then things got dicey. Doubront had to duck lest a rocket off Eric Hosmer's bat rip him in half, then he bounced a changeup off of home plate. Johnny Giavotella swung at that cricket-like pitch, but he got the better of the next offering from Doubront. Giavotella connected on the next throw for a two-out single, driving in Kansas City's first run of the game.
Cain then homered, driving in Hosmer and Giavotella. Doubront notched another strikeout to end the inning, but he's up to 85 pitches, and the Red Sox have action in the bullpen. Doubront may have lost his grip on this one.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox went down quick in that one. Cody Ross had a bit of a beef with a called third strike, and the home plate umpire even seemed to agree — but a call's a call, and once the ump makes it, there's not much anyone can do. Dustin Pedroia and James Loney were also retired to wrap up the frame.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Pedro Ciriaco is not having the best day.
Ciriaco had a bad throw to first in the first inning that, while it was not an error or even a bad throw considering he was trying to make a tough play, could have turned into a disaster if not for the glove of first baseman James Loney.
In this inning, Ciriaco made a clean grab of a grounder at third, but he absolutely blew the throw to second, giving the Royals an extra base runner with one out. Boston also missed what could have been a double play.
Defense is supposed to be Ciriaco's forte, as great as he's been at the plate for the Sox this season (.351 coming into Sunday). But having to play out of position (he's best at shortstop) and being in the major league lineup so long means a dip should be expected sometime.
Ciriaco redeemed himself somewhat with a tall foul fly for the second out.
Doubront, meanwhile, is up to 59 pitches already. That is not good — and it's due to Doubront taking his time to nibble around the plate, not anything going on behind him.
End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: It's always a good sign when the bottom of the order is moving as well as the top.
Mauro Gomez and Mike Aviles combined to get a second run for the Red Sox, with Gomez drawing a walk and Aviles launching a long fly that looked like it was due to clear the Green Monster before bouncing down for a double.
Scott Podsednik added to the hitting outburst with an infield single, but the Sox stranded two men on base when Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to left. A lead's a lead, though.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Jeff Francoeur, while a very nice fella, is positively horrible at the plate in this series. His flyout makes him 0-for-9 at Fenway Park this weekend. Maybe he needs some clam chowder?
Felix Doubront, meanwhile, must have had his Wheaties this morning. He continues to rifle the ball in, and he has three strikeouts today.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Now, Dustin Pedroia is good against the Royals, but that was just a funky play.
With Pedro Ciriaco already aboard thanks to a leadoff single, Pedroia sent a bloop toward right field. It was too short for right fielder Jeff Francoeur, but first baseman Eric Hosmer couldn't quite get there, either. With a little bit of turning, running and looking into the sun, the ball dropped next to Hosmer's glove as he ran out, and Pedroia had first base.
Pedroia has a ridiculously good batting average against Kansas City — .379 (61-for-161). That's the best average of any major leaguer against the Royals in the franchise's history, according to the Red Sox.
So, whether it's luck or just good hitting, Pedroia made it to first, and that worked out quite well for the Sox. Cody Ross was up next, and he dumped a single into left to put Boston ahead early.
James Loney also got his first look from the Fenway Park batter's box, but he didn't fare as well. He grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: On a day when Felix Doubront needs to be very good, the lefty has posted a great first inning.
Doubront steamed through that inning on 22 pitches, and while the Red Sox would like him to keep the pitch count low so he can give relief to a bullpen that has had two marathon games in the past four days, him keeping the Royals off the board is also a good sign.
Doubront had Kansas City batters biting on his fastball throughout the first, and those swings-and-misses are a good sign for Doubront, who leaned on strikeouts for his early-season results.
Red Sox fans also got to see their new first baseman in action for the first time. James Loney was in the middle of two key plays. In the first one, where Pedro Ciriaco had to charge a hot grounder to third and try to beat the runner with his throw, Loney made a first-class swipe at first base after the throw bounced high and went off target.
Loney then charged a grounder and rifled the ball to second for a forceout for the second out of the inning. The play had enough guys milling about that someone could have muffed it up, but Loney showed no hesitation in playing first at Fenway like he'd been there the whole time.
1:38 p.m.: First pitch lands. It's a beautiful day in Boston. We'll see whether Felix Doubront can make it any prettier.
1 p.m.: We're coming up on game time here, and the Red Sox have sent a whole bunch of smiling faces down to field level to take photos with fans.
James Loney is also on the premises and in Red Sox colors. First pitch is in just a half an hour.
11:30 a.m.: It's been a crazy few days for Red Sox fans, so I thought I'd get you caught up in case you missed any of the action.
First, a gigantic trade went down yesterday. If you missed this, I have just one question for you: What was it like living under that rock?
We've got video of Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington's news conference announcing the deal, and a very happy Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto flying to Los Angeles. Punto also thanked Red Sox fans via Twitter, as did Gonzalez.
The trade left us asking several questions, one of which was: Was this the craziest trade ever? We also examined how the Red Sox look, checkbook-wise, and delved into the statement the Sox made with this move.
The Red Sox made several moves to adjust the roster in the wake of the trade. Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch Monday, and Jose Iglesias, Che-Hsuan Lin and Junichi Tazawa have been called up. Alfredo Aceves is also taking three games off after a spat with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, and the Red Sox lost to the Royals in extras last night.
This morning, we caught up with some of what's happened with the trade, including Josh Beckett opening a Twitter account to thank Red Sox fans and Adrian Gonzalez swatting a three-run bomb in his first at-bat as a Dodger.
We've got more Red Sox news and analysis all over NESN.com and coming up on the pregame shows, but that should be enough for you to chew on for now.
11:20 a.m.: We have your lineups. Also, get some background on why James Loney is playing and David Ortiz is not.
Pedro Ciriaco 3B
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Cody Ross RF
James Loney 1B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Mauro Gomez DH
Mike Aviles SS
Scott Podsednik LF
Felix Doubront P
Lorenzo Cain CF
Alcides Escobar SS
Alex Gordon LF
Billy Butler DH
Salvador Perez C
Jeff Francoeur RF
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Eric Hosmer 1B
Tony Abreu 3B
Will Smith P
8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox have to be happy to just be playing baseball after a weekend — and year — that has had plenty of drama. With Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto winging their way to the West Coast on Saturday afternoon, the rest of the Red Sox can settle in and start winning some games.
Boston (60-67) came up just short against Kansas City (56-69) on Saturday night, and the Sox will look to make it two out of three Sunday.
Felix Doubront, fresh off the disabled list, will take the ball for Boston. Doubront, who is 10-6 with a 4.70 ERA this season, has had his struggles this season, many of them recently. After looking like one of Boston's better pitchers early this year, he's recorded a few ugly outings, the latest being his 4 1/3 inning start against Cleveland when he gave up four earned runs shortly before heading to the DL.
Doubront, who has been a strikeout machine at points this season while battling to keep his pitch count down so he can stay in games, is 1-0 in his career against Kansas City with a 4.26 ERA and two strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
The Royals will send Will Smith (4-5, 5.40 ERA) to face Doubront. The 23-year-old lefty, who has started just 10 games for the big league club, has never faced Boston. He's been uneven all year in his chances on the mound, his high point being a pair of seven-inning, two-run outings this month. But those starts were followed by just 3 2/3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay. Chances are that the Red Sox could make some headway if they get to the rookie early.
We'll be ready to watch some baseball at 1:35 p.m., but be sure to catch the Ultimate Red Sox Show with Jenny Dell at noon and the pregame shows at 12:30. Follow us here on the live blog throughout the game for news, analysis and general merriment.