It’s way too soon to freak out, but it’s not too soon to complain. After all, we Bostonians are known for our obsequious passion for our sports teams. I probably take Red Sox baseball more seriously than I took college.
And after this weekend, we do have cause to be distressed. The Red Sox finally lost a series after winning their first six and sweeping the last two. They were no-hit for the first time since April 22, 1993. They were outscored by the A’s, 10-8, which doesn’t sound too bad until you remember that in two of the three games, Boston scored just a single run. It’s startling enough to knock the wind right out of you.
Cora sticking with David Price in the 8th felt like a lite-version of Grady Little. When the lineup failed to provide Price with the necessary run support, it evoked Pedro’s press conference after the disastrous start of the 2004 ALCS: ‘I just go out there and pitch. I can’t do anything if they don’t score runs.’
But the bigger issue was Cora’s decision to stick with his starter at all. Closer Craig Kimbrel has been virtually unnecessary of late, meaning he was more than well-rested and available when Price gave up a 3-run homer to Khris Davis with 2 outs in the 8th. This isn’t a slight on Price, though. He pitched a marvelous game, but without run support, the stakes are too high.
The lineup yesterday was questionable at best. Giving the boys a day off is important, but giving Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Eduardo Nuñez all the same rest day the day after getting no-hit just seemed like a bad idea from the get-go. And not using them to pinch-hit once the game got stressful was just a mistake. Mookie Betts is arguably the best player on the team – just ask Buck Showalter. An at-bat from him could’ve turned the whole thing around. There’s no logical reason for Cora not using them; it seems like he was as cocky about the team as we’ve been.
One of the reasons it feels so bad to lose is because of how we lost. Absence of run support was the Sox’s downfall in 2017; they finished last in the American League in home runs. To see them shut down like this brings back some pretty frustrating memories.
You also have to wonder if this is the kind of season it’s going to be, with stunningly high highs and low lows, a more extreme version of the frustratingly inconsistent 2017 season. While the way the Sox were winning was unsustainable and impossible long-term, this losing weekend is hopefully an anomaly. We’ve gotten a taste of big wins, and we want more. At the very least, we want a team that looks like it’s trying.
Losing isn’t fun. But in the case of Sunday’s game, I truly think it could’ve been avoided. Or at the very least, Cora could’ve stemmed the bleeding. This team has serious raw talent, but it’s going to take more than talent to go the distance. Here’s hoping Cora has some good strategies up his jersey sleeve.