Royals 5-0, FINAL: The Red Sox put the tying run in the on-deck circle, but Joakim Soria comes on for a one-pitch, one-out save to end it. The Rangers are losing early in Oakland and the Yankees are tied with the Angels, but the Red Sox are not helping themselves, at all.
End 8th, Royals 5-1: A nice 1-2-3 inning by Michael Bowden and now its up yo Bay, Ortiz and Drew to keep this game alive.
Mid 8th, Royals 5-1: The Red Sox finally get a run, but had a chance for more with second and third, one out and Victor Martinez up. But Martinez could only bring a run home with a groundout, and the Sox are down to their final three outs.
End 7th, Royals 5-0: Byrd goes two outs deep into the seventh before leaving with the bases loaded. This time. Manny Delcarmen comes through, getting Mark Teahen on a fly to center to end the inning. That Delcarmen is pitching for the second straight day in a 5-0 game says a lot about his standing in the bullpen these days.
Mid 7th, Royals 5-0: Nothing doing against Colon, who strikes out two in the inning.
End 6th, Royals 5-0: Who would have thought that Byrd would outlast Greinke tonight? Trey Hillman has decided to end Greinke's night at six innings, two hits and 91 pitches, while Byrd is through six at 80 pitches after another 1-2-3 inning. Can the Sox rally against the Royals bullpen? Jason Bay, whose homered in four straight games, leads off the seventh against Roman Colon. Greinke lowers his ERA to 2.08.
Mid 6th, Royals 5-0: Victor Martinez extends his hitting streak to 21 games, but that's it in the sixth, as Yuniesky Betancourt robs David Ortiz of a single with a leaping catch behind second base to end the inning.
End 5th, Royals 5-0: Byrd has done what the Red Sox needed, stopping the bleeding after his brutal first inning and pitching four shutout innings since then. He should get through the sixth, leaving the bullpen just two garbage innings. That's an acceptable outcome, considering where we were five batters into the game.
Mid 5th, Royals 5-0: It looked for a moment like the Red Sox had something going, with Greinke walking J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek with one out. But Alex Gonzalez chased a 1-and-0 pitch and flew out to shallow right, and the rally was dead in its tracks. Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to center to end the inning, and you have to wonder if that was the one chance tonight to get back in this one.
End 4th, Royals 5-0: Since allowing the first five batters to reach (and score), Byrd has retired 12 of 16, allowing just one runner as far as second base. If only he could get a do-over on those first five…
Mid 4th, Royals 5-0: Dustin Pedroia knows something the rest of the Red Sox lineup doesn't. Pedroia is the only hitter to reach base tonight, walking in the fourth after a first-inning double. But Greinke answers with three in a row, including strikeouts of Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, to end the inning.
End 3rd, Royals 5-0: The Red Sox pounded Lenny DiNardo on his second trip through the lineup Monday. Any chance they can do the same to Greinke? Yeah, probably not.
Mid 3rd, Royals 5-0: The Red Sox aren't even getting a sniff on offense, with Greinke setting down eight in a row with ease. Don't know if Greinke will win the Cy Young Award, but he's sure pitching like he should tonight.
End 2nd, Royals 5-0: Byrd recovers well in the second, throwing a 1-2-3 inning. But the damage is already done. The best Byrd can do now is go deep enough to keep the bullpen fresh for potentially-winnable games Wednesday and Thursday.
Mid 2nd, Royals 5-0: This is the first and only time the Red Sox are facing Greinke this season, and they've already seen enough. Greinke sets the side in order very quickly in the second, having retired five in a row since Pedroia's double.
End 1st, Royals 5-0: G'night folks! This game is over very early tonight, as the Royals have nickle-and-dimed Paul Byrd to the tune of five runs so far in the first. Byrd allowed a pair of leadoff singles, then threw eight straight balls to force in the first run. Two more singles later and Greinke has a huge lead to work with. Greinke has allowed as many as five runs in a game just three times this season.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Victor Martinez gets a chance to make an immediate impact on this one, but Greinke wins the first battle. Dustin Pedroia doubled to deep right with one out, but Martinez flew out to left on the first pitch, then Kevin Youkilis struck out to end the inning.
8 p.m.: The magic number story remains the same tonight: Seven to clinch the wild card, four games in the loss column behind the Yankees.
7:20 p.m.: If anyone is going to supply the offense against Greinke tonight, it might be Victor Martinez. Not only does he bring a 20-game hitting streak into tonight's game, he owns a career .342 average against the right-hander, collecting one fewer hit (13-for-38) than entire Red Sox roster put together (14-for-45). His eight RBI are twice that of the roster. Mike Lowell is 3-for-4, but he sits tonight.
3 p.m.: The Red Sox look to shake off a rough opening night in Kansas City, but the road only gets rougher against Zack Greinke tonight.
Greinke is ending 2009 the way he began it, shutting out opponents in three of his past four starts and allowing two runs or less in six-of-eight. The Red Sox send Paul Byrd to oppose him, creating one of the biggest on-paper mis-matches of the season. It is not a good time for this, with the Yankees remaining five games ahead and treading water on the West Coast. If the Red Sox could steal this one, it would take a lot of Monday night's sting away.