<
>

Quick hits: Sox 8, Royals 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few observations after the Red Sox beat the Royals 8-6 to take two out of three here.

* Two outs away from escaping with a sloppy 8-6 win, the Sox were sobered by the sight of left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury walking off the field clutching his left rib area after taking a knee from Adrian Beltre in a collision with the Sox third baseman. Ellsbury was in foul territory, calling for a ball hit by the Royals' Mitch Maier, when a backpedaling Beltre hit him forcefully with his knee.

We'll update as soon as we get a report on Ellsbury's condition.

UPDATE: X-rays on Ellsbury's ribs are negative, but it appears likely he won't play Monday. For more, click here.

* The only real positive Clay Buchholz can take out of the day is the decision, his first win of 2010. Otherwise, it was a painful exercise to watch him labor despite the luxury of a 4-0 lead before he took the mound. Buchholz gave up a hit to the leadoff man in all five innings he pitched, including a home run by Jose Guillen. Buchholz threw 94 pitches, and despite radar-gun readings that hit 97 (highly suspect), whiffed just one.

His outing was encouraging to only one person: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went five scoreless innings in Pawtucket Saturday but may need a crowbar to pry a spot on the rotation unless Buchholz disintegrates.

* Reliever Ramon Ramirez lengthened Terry Francona’s day beyond what it should have been, when he went single, single, Guillen home run to the only three batters he faced in the eighth, allowing the Royals to draw within a pair, 8-6.

* The first three batters in the Sox order combined for eight hits. Ellsbury and Victor Martinez each had a single and double, while Dustin Pedroia had four hits, the 13th game of his career in which he has had four or more hits.

* Bobby Doerr leads all Red Sox second basemen with 223 home runs, among Bostonians who played at least 70 percent of their games at second base. With three home runs in the season’s first six games, including one Sunday, Pedroia is within two of tying for second place. Can you guess whom Pedroia is within striking distance of? (Answer below.)

Pedroia’s four-hit game came a day after being hit in the posterior by a fastball from Zack Greinke. Marco Scutaro also was hit by Greinke, in the elbow, and did not play Sunday, though Francona said he’d intended to give Scutaro the day off anyway.

* Josh Beckett was grazed in the back of the head by a line drive hit by David DeJesus Saturday night, which had David Ortiz howling in disbelief Sunday. “That was close as you can come to being killed,’’ said Ortiz, which reminded him of the time he nailed Kyle Snyder in the backside with a line drive. The 6-foot-8 Snyder was pitching for the Royals at the time before his stint with the Red Sox.

“He told me later he was so mad at me,’’ Ortiz said. “He said, ‘I tried to get out of the way, because I have no ass.’’’

* There was no laughter emanating from Big Papi’s locker after the game, not after he whiffed four more times, giving him nine punchouts in his first 18 at-bats, his average dropping to .118. On one of his whiffs, he was ahead in the count, 3-and-0. On his last at-bat, he had the count at 3-and-1 and wound up taking a called third strike.

* Beltre had three more hits Sunday, giving him a .400 average, best among Sox regulars, after the first week of the season. “He’s squared up more balls than anybody,’’ Francona said.

* Bill Hall made his first start this season, at short, and dropped a ball in left field that should have been caught by Ellsbury.

* The day after hitting two home runs, Jason Varitek was in the bullpen before the game, doing catching drills with bullpen coach Gary Tuck.

* Three things that draw people to Kauffman Stadium: Greinke, the water fountains and the condiment races. Very tough place to be a baseball fan.

* Quiz answer: Mike Andrews, with 47 homers.