Red Sox Live Blog: Sox Cough Up Series Opener in Kansas City

Red Sox Live Blog: Sox Cough Up Series Opener in Kansas City Postgame, Royals 4-3: Wasted opportunities early and a blown lead late and the Sox have now gone five days since that dramatic win against the Yankees. Seems like a long time ago.

After the game they seemed to be comfortable with their decision to pitch to Rick Ankiel in the eighth, saying he got a little lucky sawing that one off. Regardless, by not playing the percentages they lost the lead, the third straight the bullpen has given away.

A play that has been glossed over a bit is the double play that Royals starter Kyle Davies got to end the third. Victor Martinez was up with the bases loaded and one out and had a 2-0 count. He fouled off a fastball before hitting into the twin killing and spoiling one of many chances that passed by.

Boston left eight on base.

The one bright spot was Tim Wakefield, who allowed two runs in seven innings in his 2010 debut. We will have more on Wake in a separate story in a bit.

Final, Royals 4-3: Boston led 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth. The lead should've been more than that. The Sox had the bases loaded and one out in the third and failed to score. They drew three straight walks in the seventh and failed to score.

And then they made the decision to pitch to Rick Ankiel with first base open in the eighth and watched him deposit a two-run single to left that proved to be the difference.

We have a day to digest this one before Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke take the mound in a great matchup Saturday night.

End 8th, Royals 4-3: I said earlier that the Red Sox should just walk Rick Ankiel the next time they see him. I was sort of kidding, but this situation begged for it and the Sox elected to pitch to the Royals center fielder. He burned them again.

Ankiel improves to 4-for-4 on the night with a two-run single to left that puts this one in the hands of Kansas City closer Joakim Soria. Ankiel, the former St. Louis Cardinal, has three RBIs.

Entering the game, lefties had hit .250 against Bard in his career. Righties had hit .194. Still, they throw to the lefty, who just happens to be the hottest hitter in the lineup, with first base open. Tough pill to swallow.

Bottom 8th, Red Sox 3-2: Good stuff here. Daniel Bard is coming on with the tying run on third base and one out in the eighth.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-2: All you Mike Lowell fans will have to wait a bit more to see your guy. Jeremy Hermida takes the spot of David Ortiz, who was ejected back in the sixth.

Hermida singled in his first Red Sox at bat and moved up 90 feet on a base hit by Adrian Beltre. John Parrish, the fifth Royals pitcher of the night, whiffs J.D. Drew to end it.

Boston has left seven men on base.

End 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Old Reliable does his job. Tim Wakefield sets them down in order in the seventh and will likely turn a lead over to the rested bullpen.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2: The Sox are given three straight walks by reliever Robinson Tejeda and fail to score, the last out coming on three straight strikes to Dustin Pedroia. This one just has that feeling to it, doesn't it? 

Pedroia's strikeout leaves runners on second and third. They didn't have the bases loaded because leadoff man J.D. Drew was thrown out trying to steal second (perhaps a missed hit-and-run). Drew has been successful just twice in nine stolen base attempts since the start of the 2009 season.

End 6th, Red Sox 3-2: First the ejection of David Ortiz. Then back-to-back home runs off Tim Wakefield. All of a sudden the Sox are in a dogfight.

Billy Butler had the first home run and Rick Ankiel the second. Wakefield may want to just walk Ankiel next time. The Royals center fielder is 3-for-3 in this one and now 5-for-7 lifetime against Wakefield.

Thanks to Jerry Remy for pointing out the rule on an ejected designated hitter. Terry Francona does not need to officially replace David Ortiz until his spot comes up again, which may not happen until the ninth.

We will see who bats in his place.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-0: Well, all of you itching to see Mike Lowell get some action will now be satisfied. David Ortiz gets ejected after arguing a third strike.

First of all, Ortiz didn't have much of an argument there. I think he was a bit peeved that he had fanned for the seventh time in 14 at bats.

Second, it seemed as if Terry Francona was slow to get out of the dugout and try to prevent it from happening. Ortiz had been going at it for a solid four to five seconds (remember, you cannot argue balls and strikes without facing ejection) before Francona reached the top step.

The Lowell substitution is not official. Just guessing.

End 5th, Red Sox 3-0: The jury is still out as to whether the Sox are going to improve their ability to throw out base stealers, but Victor Martinez's transition into the full-time role behind the plate has been otherwise seamless. And he does a great job of catching Tim Wakefield.

Martinez makes a catch against the screen as part of the first perfect inning for Wakefield.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-0: If you blinked, you missed the Red Sox batting in the top of the fifth. Kyle Davies has his second 1-2-3 inning, although the first involved Jacoby Ellsbury being thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-0: Kansas City Royals baseball. Ugh. How many teams can have two extra-base hits in the span of three batters and fail to score a run?

Rick Ankiel, who is now 4-for-6 in his career against Tim Wakefield, doubled with one out. He then gets thrown out at third trying to advance on a grounder to shortstop.

Then, with two outs, Jason Kendall doubled over the head of Mike Cameron in center. But Albert Callaspo, who was on first following the fielder's choice, is out by 10 feet at home. Groundout. Double. Groundout. Double. End of Inning.

The Sox do get credit for a great relay on the play.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: No doubt there were a few groans in Massachusetts living rooms when David Ortiz and J.D. Drew both struck out in the second inning. An Ortiz double and a tape-measure two-run shot by Drew in the fourth ought to make those groans go away for a bit.

Drew's first home run of the season was hammered to straightaway center and cleared the fence with plenty of room to spare. Hopefully we get a measurement on that.

Adrian Beltre had an RBI groundout earlier in the inning.

End 3rd, 0-0: Tim Wakefield issues his first walk of 2010, but otherwise is unharmed in the third.

The Sox have Wake through 2011 and it's not out of the realm of possibility that he will be around a couple years beyond that. If and when he moves on, the next great knuckleballer is just getting going.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Bases loaded. One out. Victor Martinez up. A 2-0 count. Sounds like a recipe for success for the Sox.

But after fouling one off, Martinez grounds into a 3-6-1 double play to thwart what could have been a big inning and get Kyle Davies into the dugout unscathed. If the Royals end up winning this one that will likely be a big reason why.

End 2nd, 0-0: Tim Wakefield said this spring he was working on a better delivery to the plate to limit would-be base stealers. He has the first stolen base against him in 2010 when Rick Ankiel takes second, the throw sailing into center field.

Martinez is 1-of-6 in throwing out runners.

A strikeout of the OBP-phobic Yuniesky Betancourt makes the steal a non-factor.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: David Ortiz is now 1-for-12 with four strikeouts on the young season after he swings through a changeup for strike three.

J.D. Drew later looks at a called third strike.

Kyle Davies has his off-speed stuff working well early on in his 100th career start.

End 1st, 0-0: The knuckleball was dancing for Tim Wakefield in the first. The bottom dropped out of it on strikeouts to Scott Podsednik and Billy Butler.

Albert Callaspo managed a two-out single off Wake, but no issues for the right hander as he embarks on his 16th season with the Sox.

Mid 1st, 0-0: That is now six scoreless innings for Kyle Davies in his career against the Red Sox. Five in 2005. One in 2010. Jacoby Ellsbury had a hand in helping Davies out in the first inning.

I've never been a huge fan of speedy guys gambling to take an extra base, as Ellsbury did when he unsuccessfully tried to stretch a leadoff single into a double. The guy can steal bases with the best of them, so seeing the Sox lose a baserunner on his gamble is an early negative.

8:10 p.m.: Many of you are likely chomping at the bit to see some baseball, but it's great to have Zack Greinke get his tribute here, even if he looked as if he wanted the whole thing to end. The guy was something else in 2009, and remember, what he did meant a little more to Kansas City and the fans than it might in a bigger market.

Greinke's starts were events last summer at Kauffman Stadium. Attendance would shoot up every fifth game, and the righty rarely disappointed.

We get to see him square off with Josh Beckett in a wonderful matchup Saturday night.

7:50 p.m.: A quick scheduling note for those of you finishing up the dishes or heading out to meet your buddies to catch this one on TV: first pitch is 8:20 p.m. due to a pregame ceremony for Zack Greinke, the Royals' Cy Young Award-winning righty.

7:10 p.m.: When Tim Wakefield steps onto the mound in a little over an hour, he becomes the oldest Red Sox pitcher to ever start a game, passing David Wells by 152 days. Wakefield is 43 years and 250 days old.

Hard to find two more dissimilar guys being so closely linked.

Wakefield has some serious milestones in sight as he begins 2010, some of which could come in the next month or two.

For his career, the knuckleballer is 11 wins shy of 200, 21 strikeouts short of 2,000 and needs just 68 1/3 innings to become the 130th player in major league history to reach 3,000.

Wakefield also needs just 17 wins to tie Roger Clemens and Cy Young atop the all-time Red Sox franchise list. And with 65 innings pitched this year he will pass Clemens and take over the top spot in team history.

He is as appreciated as anyone in that clubhouse, but someday Wakefield will be held in even higher regard when people look back on all-time great Red Sox pitchers. It'll be hard not to when he sits at or near the top of so many important lists.

6:00 p.m.: Here are your lineups for this evening's tilt in Kauffman Stadium. As you will see, the Sox have the same starting nine as in each of the first three against the Yankees.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
J.D. Drew RF
Mike Cameron CF
Marco Scutaro SS

Royals
David DeJesus RF
Scott Podsednik LF
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Billy Butler 1B
Rick Ankiel CF
Jose Guillen DH
Jason Kendall C
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Chris Getz 2B

Reigning Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke is scheduled to be honored in a pregame ceremony for his 2009 season. And on Saturday he and Josh Beckett are on the mound in a delicious matchup.

8 a.m.: After a disappointing end to their highly anticipated series against the Yankees, the Red Sox will attempt to rebound on the road when they open a three-game set in Kansas City.

Tim Wakefield gets the ball for Boston, starting his 16th season with the team. The 43-year-old had a great spring training, despite having offseason back surgery to repair a herniated disk.

Kyle Davies is on the mound for the Royals, who dropped two of three to Detroit to start the season.

First pitch is set for 8:10 p.m. and NESN will guide you through the action.

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