Billy Koch's first warm-up pitch landed several feet in front of home plate and bounced off catcher Miguel Olivo's mask, drawing sarcastic applause from the home crowd.
It was a sign of things to come.
"I threw enough bad pitches today to last a whole month," Koch said. "I let the team down and myself down."
He was far from alone.
"That's just a horrific game, one of the worst I've seen in a long time," manager Jerry Manuel said after his team sank to 0-3. "Defensively, everything. Bad ballgame. One of our worst."
Then he paused.
"We're much betterhopefullythan what we saw out there," he said.
As poorly as Koch pitched, the Sox have far bigger concerns heading into Friday's home opener against Detroit.
They had to use seven pitchers Thursday after Jon Garland gave up nine hits in only four innings.
"He couldn't put the innings away with two outs," Manuel said. "He has to grow up in that area."
Garland's erratic pitching was made worse by an atrocious infield that combined for four errors and misplayed at least two more balls.
"That team [the Royals] did everything it's supposed to and we didn't," Jose Valentin said. "That's why we got beat."
At least Valentin was productive. He ripped a pair of two-run homers, the second one giving the Sox a 6-5 lead in the seventh.
That's when the supposedly improved Sox bullpen disintegrated.
With one out, Tom Gordon plunked Joe Randa and walked Mike Sweeney on a 3-2 pitch. Damaso Marte induced a grounder to third base from Raul Ibanez, but instead of trying to initiate a 5-4-3 double play, Joe Crede stepped on third and threw late to first.
Marte then walked Desi Relaford, bringing Koch into the game.
Ken Harvey greeted him by lining a two-run single up the middle. Then Brent Mayne went the other way for a three-run homer. Then Angel Berroa doubled.
Koch simply could not get an out.
"One of my worst outings ever," he said. "But it happens. You're going to blow a save here or there. Shoot, you probably have five bad outings a year and five real good ones. It's what you do in the middle that counts."
After Crede let a two-hopper get past him for his second error of the game, Koch gave up a single and a walk. His removal drew more applause from the crowd of 9,524.
Rick White, after walking in the seventh run of the inning, finally put an end to the Sox's misery.
"This is something we have to swallow hard," Manuel said.
After getting swept by a bunch of unknowns in Kansas City, the Sox have been bloodied. But they insist they're not beaten.
"Hopefully these are the only three games that we lose," Valentin said.
"If this game was in the middle of August, it would pretty much get lost in the shuffle," Paul Konerko said.
Konerko was asked if there was a sense of panic among the Sox.
"Would you [panic] if you had 159 games left?" he asked. "Would you?"
The answer was no.
"We won't either."