There are only so many times you can write, “Alex Cora was as angry as he’s been all season” before it starts to become meaningless. It feels like we’re at that point.
“Embarrassing is the word,” Cora said Saturday night after the Texas Rangers beat the Red Sox, 10-1. “It starts on me. Five errors, we didn’t run the bases well. We didn’t put good at-bats; we didn’t pitch.”
He was just getting warmed up.
“That was embarrassing today. It’s not acceptable for a team that is fighting for the playoffs to show up like that and play like that. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose the game, it’s how you win or lose the game. That’s not acceptable.”
That wasn’t everything.
“It’s hard to watch,” Cora said. “It’s hard on us. I hate the way we played today. I hate it. That’s the bottom line.”
Asked his opinion of starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed five runs against the worst offensive team in the American League, Cora was dismissive.
“There’s not much to talk about him,” he said. “He wasn’t able to put people away. He didn’t give us enough innings for us to win the game.”
Cora went on to say that he and the coaching staff have to do a better job of preparing the team. That’s what a manager is supposed to say. We heard it from Terry Francona when the Sox collapsed in 2011. John Farrell was angry and accountable when the Sox fell apart before the 2014 trade deadline.
Now Cora is in their shoes, trying to figure out how to ignite a good team gone bad, but it’s ultimately not on the manager or any of the coaches. The Sox have the same players they did when they were in first place at the All-Star break.
They are 15-19 since and unless you believe injured utilityman Christian Arroyo was the key to the entire operation, not much has changed on the roster.
That the Sox are 7-13 since the trade deadline suggests the players feel let down by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who wasn’t as aggressive as his counterparts with the Blue Jays, Rays, and Yankees.
That’s not a bad excuse for a few days. But it’s been more than three weeks now and the Sox have won both games Chris Sale has started since coming off the injured list. He’s already been worth more WAR than anybody the Yankees, Jays, or Rays picked up.
Good for Cora saying he’s part of the problem. But either the players care enough to make a better effort the final 37 games, or they don’t.
Seven of the 10 players in the lineup on Saturday have at least one World Series ring. They understand what’s needed.
Cora isn’t going to make the Sox better by throwing their bats in the shower or ordering midnight batting practice. The players performed at a high level in the first half of the season and have not since.
The Sox are seven games out in the division with 37 games to play. That’s not impossible but it’s edging toward unrealistic. But a wild card berth certainly remains viable with the Sox tied with Oakland for the second berth.
They have yet to play in the Wild Card game since it started in 2012.
That shouldn’t be part of the conversation now. The only goal at the moment should be winning the series against Texas on Monday after being rained out on Sunday.
“There’s frustration all over the place,” Rodriguez said.
The anger and frustration were warranted. The Sox were held to five hits on Saturday, one after the third inning. A Rangers team that was 7-25 since the All-Star break and had lost 17 of 18 on the road made them look bad.
That Rodriguez failed to cover first on a grounder to the right side in the first inning was the start of a sloppy game. Rodriguez, whose earned run average is up to 5.19, didn’t duck responsibility.
“It’s 100 percent up to the players. We’re the ones who go out there and play every day. [Cora] is just the manager. He’s just managing the lineup. It’s up to us. Pitchers, position players. It’s up to us to change the way we’ve been playing.”
I asked Rodriguez if he thinks the players remain capable of doing that.
“100 percent,” he said.
Good answer. Now how about some proof?
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.