Red Sox, De La Rosa fizzle in K.C.


Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar scores against Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium (John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports).

The Boston Red Sox have been woefully unable to defend the World Series championship, and they can’t even play the role of spoiler.

The Red Sox fell 7-1 to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City Saturday, their first loss on the season to the American League Central contender. The Royals, a half-game behind the Detroit Tigers for the division lead and tied with the Oakland Athletics for a Wild Card berth, are teetering precariously on the playoff bubble. Yet rather than knocking them off, the Red Sox propped them up.

Boston starter Rubby De La Rosa (4-7, 4.31) lasted just four innings, while 20 consecutive Red Sox batters were retired at one stretch, providing the struggling Royals with an easy victory.

De La Rosa, the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic who has not posted a victory since Aug. 10, surrendered five runs on six hits, throwing just 65 pitches. He gave way to Steven Wright, who pitched three scoreless innings, and Matt Barnes who, in just his second Major League appearance, struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth inning, but allowed three hits, a walk and two runs in between.

Jeremy Guthrie (11-11, 4.35) pitched eight innings for the Royals, limiting the Red Sox to just one run on three hits. Brandon Finnegan pitched a scoreless ninth inning, allowing a hit but striking out two.

The game was the occasion of Mookie Betts‘ Major League debut at second base. With Dustin Pedroia sidelined for the season after surgery, the 21-year-old Betts, playing in his 39th big league game, was penciled into the leadoff spot and his natural position defensively. In his previous games, Betts played extensively in the outfield.

David Ortiz had two hits – half of Boston’s total. Xander Bogaerts and Allen Craig had one hit apiece to account for the team’s offensive output on the night.
Kansas City staked themselves to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and didn’t look back. They added three runs in the fourth inning, which ended De La Rosa’s evening, and two in the eighth.

De La Rosa balked in the fifth Royals run, which lead to a heated conversation between Red Sox manager John Farrell and the umpires.

“Rubby dropped the ball as he was coming to his set position,” Farrell told reporters after the game. “I was just trying to get some clarification on the timing of the whole play.”

The Red Sox’ lone run came in the fifth. Royals third baseman misplayed a Mookie Betts grounder, ruled a single, to lead off. After Bogaerts lined out to center field, Ortiz singled to right, advancing Betts to third base. He scored on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly to center.

Joe Kelly (3-4) takes the mound for Boston against Jason Vargas (11-8) Sunday at 2:10 p.m. in the series finale.