Mark Buehrle doesn't need my advice, but I wouldn't have advised him to walk the batter in front of Melky Cabrera and Billy Butler when trailing by a run in the sixth inning.
But he issued a five-pitch free pass to Alex Gordon, which brought two of the more Buehrle-punishing hitters around. Melky Cabrera entered the game 13-for-23 against Buehrle, and extended it to 16-for-26 after a homer and two singles. Butler carried a more modest .340/.379/.509 line over 58 head-to-head plate appearances.
And they both did what they normally did. Melky Cabrera doubled Gordon to third, and Butler cleared the bases with a three-run homer to left. A 3-2 game turned into a 6-2 game, and if that weren't bad enough, Kansas City added injury to the insult the following inning. Their 15th hit (a career-high allowed by Buehrle) drilled him in the left triceps and knocked him out of the game.
Buehrle allowed seven runs (six earned) over 6 1/3 innings as the Sox watched their losing streak stretch to five games. More significantly, tonight's loss officially eliminated them from the playoff hunt.
The Sox weren't particularly sharp in any aspect of the game, as soft-tossing Jeff Francis kept the Sox in check over six innings, which allowed him to run up his record to, um, 6-16.
Dayan Viciedo's struggles at the plate continued, as he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and failed to cash in a runner from third. That shallow flyout helped stall momentum on their last best chance to get back into the ballgame -- the Sox loaded the bases with three straight singles, but they could only get one run out of it, on a Tyler Flowers sac fly.
However, his arm did hold the Royals up at third on three occasions, including one that led to a Cabrera baserunning error. With one out, Cabrera on second and Alcides Escobar on third, Butler hit a high fly to shallowish right.
Escobar bluffed, and Viciedo made a strong throw home. But he also faked out Cabrera, who took off for third. Viciedo hit Flowers on the fly, and that started a rundown that led to tag out at the plate on a putout that went 9-2-6-2-5-3-4-1. I'm guessing that's the longest out of the year.
Brent Morel had a tough time in both parts of the game. He went 0-for-4, and he committed two errors, although both were on tough plays. He had a sharp grounder ramp up his body and hit him in the face, and he also threw away a risky attempt at a fielder's choice after making a diving stab.
Flowers completed the team failure cycle with a baserunning gaffe that killed a potential rally in the second. He drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second, and then was picked off by Salvador Perez after straying too far from first with a secondary lead, ending the inning.
A.J. Pierzynski led the Sox offense with three hits, including the 1,500th of his career.