Earlier this season, Alex Cora said he tells his team, “Be humble, stay hungry.”
But after sweeping the Yankees in four games last weekend, the Red Sox were due for a serving of humble pie, and the Blue Jays and Orioles joined forces to deliver.
Last night, the Red Sox found themselves down 8-3 in the 3rd inning, against a team 46.5 games out of first. Nathan Eovaldi and a cadre of bullpen relievers gave away the first-inning lead so generously handed to them by Xander Bogaert’s 3-run homer. In the next two innings, the Orioles scored four runs twice.
Of course, a five-run deficit isn’t impossible to overcome, especially for the best-hitting team in baseball. And the Red Sox even had some help from the equally-terrible Orioles bullpen. The Sox shrank the gap with two runs in the 4th. And then Brock Holt hit a solo homer in the 6th to start a 6-run rally inning. Four of the runs in that inning would come as a result of walks, a game of Round Robin for the Orioles.
Choosing a Red Sox reliever is like playing a game of ‘Duck, Duck, Goose,’ but not wanting to tap anyone. You don’t want to be able to compare a single part of your team to the Orioles, but last night, our bullpen was barely better than theirs. Heath Hembree whittled the Red Sox lead down to a single run in the bottom of the 6th, allowing two more funs to the Orioles. Until Ryan Brasier took the mound in the 7th inning, no Sox pitcher managed a 1-2-3 inning. The Orioles actually out-hit the Red Sox, 17-16. Luckily, the Red Sox were better at capitalizing.
So sure, the Red Sox set a new season-high runs-scored with 19. And yes, they picked up their 82nd win and climbed back to 9 games over the Yankees (with help from the Texas Rangers). But make no mistake: this was an ugly, stressful game. Until the Red Sox scored five runs in the 8th to make it a solid, season-high 19, this was a tug-of-war between the best team in baseball and literally one of the worst teams in baseball history.
Unlike the Orioles, who officially removed themselves from postseason contention last night (with 56 games left to play, no less), the Red Sox still have something to prove, and something to work for. I’m not going to give them a gold medal for managing to come back and beat a team they should’ve demolished.
Photo: Boston Herald