Over the top: Ace, play sink Royals
Beckett, bizarre double highlight tough loss to Red Sox
KANSAS CITY -- Top of the shelf. That was Josh Beckett's pitching performance for the Boston Red Sox. Top of the wall. That was the Royals' bizarre and captivating defensive performance in the outfield.
By the time the temperature had dipped and humidity lessened a bit, Beckett owned an 8-2 victory and the Royals owned a highlight reel classic on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Beckett has never lost to the Royals and this time he held them to four hits in his 6 2/3 innings. In five career starts against them, he's 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA.
The Royals' three-game winning spurt was snapped but they've still won seven of their last nine games. Kansas City was managed by bench coach Dave Owen because manager Trey Hillman was under a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball.
"What about the guy getting suspended on a night we've got to face Beckett?" Owen said jocularly. "He picks his spot, doesn't he?"
Jason Bay picked his spots for the Red Sox. The cross-over from the Pittsburgh Pirates smacked four hits and knocked in two runs as he takes over for Manny Ramirez.
Nothing was more spellbinding, however, than Bay's double in the seventh inning. Center fielder Mitch Maier leaped high and kept it from being a homer. The ball fell out of his glove and, on the flat top of the wall, rolled six or seven feet before left fielder Ross Gload jumped up, swept it back in and snatched it.
"[Johnny] Damon had one similar to that in New York, but Ross and I were talking," Maier said. "We could try to re-enact that the rest of our lives and we'll never have that play happen again."
Not in, oh, maybe a million years.
"I thought I should have caught it," Maier said. "I'm just glad it didn't turn out to be a three-run home run and Ross was heads-up enough to knock it down."
It turned out to be a three-run inning against reliever Leo Nunez anyway. One run scored on that play and Jed Lowrie followed with a two-run triple that put the Red Sox up 8-1.
Royals starter Brian Bannister had a short night, lasting only three batters into the fifth inning. Owen pulled him although the score was just 3-1. By then, though, Bannister had thrown 87 pitches.
"Beckett had his swing-and-miss stuff tonight and I was just trying to keep it close and give us a chance going into the later innings to win the ballgame," Bannister said.
But it wasn't his night. Take the first inning, when David Ortiz swatted a run-scoring single.
"Big Papi hit one off the end of the bat," Bannister said. "We had the shift on and somehow he hit it right in between two guys. And [Kevin] Youkilis broke his bat and the bat flew right at me. I had to pause and didn't get to the bag in time."
"That's just kind of the way my luck's been going lately.
The Royals got the run back in their half of the first on Mike Aviles' single and Mark Teahen's RBI double, but then Beckett settled in.
"He's a true No. 1 and we saw it tonight," Owen said. "His command was really filthy and it was just a great job by him."
Beckett struck out the side in the third inning and finished with seven strikeouts. He was pulled in the seventh with two on and two out, and reliever Mike Timlin gave up an RBI single to Maier.
For Beckett, his 10th victory ended a three-start skid.
"Electric stuff," the Royals' Billy Butler said. "I can look back at one pitch on my last at-bat. I had a 0-2 pitch and that was the only pitch I had a chance at, and I fouled it off. The other ones he made were perfect pitches."
For electronic stuff, though, the sight of that ball running along atop the wall in left-center could hardly be topped. It'll be a summer replay highlight.
"It was unbelievable," said long-time Royals scout Art Stewart. "You've never seen it all in baseball. You think you did but you don't."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.