Pre-season Game #01 – Kansas City Royals at the Boston Red Sox

ROYALS CROWN RED SOX IN OPENING DAY SHUTOUT

Eternal Baseball

BOSTON – If Zack Greinke had any nerves about squaring off with all-time wins leader Cy Young, he didn’t show them on Monday night. Greinke spun six and 1/3 shutout innings and the Royals scored in each of the first three innings on their way to a pre-season opening 8-0 victory over the Red Sox.

Boston ace Cy Young struggled to find the plate early on, as seven batters came to the plate in the first inning – Kansas City plated three runs on Jorge Soler’s sacrifice fly, George Brett’s double off the right field wall, and an RBI groundout from Mike Sweeney.

The Royals continued the attack in the second inning, as Young’s first pitch plunked Hal McRae in the back. A pair of groundouts moved McRae to third base, but the Red Sox nearly escaped the inning without damage. Leadoff man Johnny Damon tapped a bouncer to short, and a charging Xander Bogaerts’ throw to first baseman Mo Vaughn was a split-second too late to retire the speedy Royals centerfielder.

McRae scored on the play and Damon kept his wheels spinning, stealing second base without a throw on the very next pitch. John Mayberry laced a single to right field and Damon scored easily to push Kansas City’s lead to 5-0 after just two innings.

After Boston was retired in order, Kansas City delivered a quartet of singles (from Danny Tartabull, Mike Moustakas, U.L. Washington, and Johnny Damon) to stretch their lead to 8-0. Damon was thrown out attempting to steal second base to end the inning and the visibly frustrated Cy Young stomped off the field, hurling his glove into the dugout on his way.

The Red Sox threatened in the bottom of the third inning, loading the bases on Dustin Pedroia’s walk, Ted Williams’ double to right, and a walk to Rafael Devers. Boston was turned away when David Ortiz grounded out to first to end the threat.

The crowd was surprised to see Cy Young return to the mound to start the fourth inning. Most starting pitchers facing a day of rough control are taken off the hook by their managers, but Young stalked to the mound with a seemingly focused anger. The rest of the game was an absolute clinic from Boston’s ace, as he turned in six shoutout innings and earned a complete game behind 135 hard-fought pitches. His overall line still reads rough (9 IP, 15 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3K) but it doesn’t tell the story of the two very different performances from the same pitcher. Young declined to speak to reporters after the game, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona was proud of his starter’s tenacity:

“It was obvious Cy didn’t have good control early on – missing his spots, leaving the ball up, and K.C. made us pay for it. I suggested we call it a day after the third, and he absolutely refused. Said he ‘wasn’t gonna hang the bullpen out on Opening Day’. That’s an alpha dog right there – and him busting back out to start the fourth and pitching the whole damn game is something that’ll resonate with this club all year. He made a statement today.”

Zach Greinke (1-0) earned the win while reliever Steve Farr cleaned up with two and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Tuesday night brings game two of this pre-season opening series. Boston sends right-hander Roger Clemens to the mound to face Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen. while Washington hands the ball to righty Jordan Zimmerman. First pitch from Fenway Park is at 7:05 PM EST.

Photo credit: Nighttime at Fenway Park by Peter Galvin

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