SEATTLE — For the Red Sox, Roberto Clemente Day means a little bit more than most teams.
There have been 30 players from Clemente’s native Puerto Rico to appear in a major league game this season and four — Kiké Hernández, Jack Lopez, Yacksel Rios, and Christian Vázquez — were with the Sox.
Manager Alex Cora and quality control coach Ramón Vázquez also are from the island.
On Wednesday, as Major League Baseball celebrated Clemente’s legacy, Cora wore No. 21 in his honor as did the team’s other Puerto Ricans (outside of Rios, who is in Triple A).
So did Nate Eovaldi and first base coach Tom Goodwin. Eovaldi is the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for community service.
Throughout baseball, all players wore a No. 21 patch.
Clemente was a 12-time All-Star and two-time World Series winner with the Pirates before dying in a New Year’s Eve plane crash in 1972 while trying to bring aid to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
He remains an icon in Puerto Rico nearly 49 years later.
“It’s great. It’s a day that is very special for everybody, not only for us Puerto Ricans,” Cora said before a 9-4 victory in 10 innings against the Mariners. “Clemente means more than just to our community, our race.
“The way he conducted himself on the field, off the field. The way he went about it was very impressive.”
Cora’s late father, José, met Clemente during his duties in Puerto Rico’s winter league.
“We heard so many stories,” Cora said. “We heard stories about Dec. 31, how he went down.”
Cora has since shared those stories with his children.
“We don’t do enough to teach our kids who this man was,” he said. “Little by little, we’re getting better at that.”
Yes, he knows
Jonny Miller of WBZ Radio opened Cora’s pregame media session by asking about the team’s poor defense in recent weeks.
“It hasn’t been great. That’s all I can say,” was the terse reply.
There’s not much more to say. The Sox are second in the majors in errors (105) and unearned runs (77). They committed two more errors on Wednesday.
Two errors led to three unearned runs on Tuesday. That gave the Sox 18 over eight games.
“[The defense] has been very inconsistent the whole season,” Cora said.
Kyle Schwarber bobbled a ground ball at first base with two outs in the seventh inning on Monday night. It led to three runs and a 5-4 loss.
He gained some redemption on Tuesday. Schwarber’s three-run double in the eighth inning helped deliver an 8-4 victory.
In a 2-2 game, Xander Bogaerts led off the inning with a triple to right field. Seattle turned to closer Drew Steckenrider, who walked Rafael Devers.
Pinch hitter Travis Shaw walked with one out to load the bases. Schwarber, hitless in his previous 16 at-bats, worked the count full before lining a fastball to the gap in right.
The ball rolled to the wall as three runs scored.
Schwarber said he wasn’t reflecting on the previous game and his error. That was in the past.
“You have to be able to turn the page … today was a whole brand-new day,” he said. “It was definitely a spot, to me as a baseball player, I definitely want to be in every time.”
Facing Yohan Ramirez, Alex Verdugo homered to right field and the Sox were on their way to a victory.
Eovaldi went five innings and allowed one earned run on five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
The righthander has a 1.90 earned run average in his last seven starts. The Sox are 6-1 in those games, but Eovaldi has only one win.
The Sox are off on Thursday and start a three-game series against the Orioles on Friday at Fenway Park. Chris Sale is the tentative starter for Friday as he waits to be cleared to return from a stint on the COVID-19 injured list. “I think it will be Friday, for sure,” Cora said. Nick Pivetta and Eovaldi would follow … Matt Barnes started for Double A Portland in Hartford to continue his rehab assignment. He allowed two unearned runs on two hits with two strikeouts. Barnes threw 18 pitches, 13 for strikes. “There’s a good chance Matty will join us [on Friday],” Cora said … Christian Arroyo and Jarren Duran were scheduled to start rehab assignments with Triple A Worcester but the game at Syracuse was canceled by rain. The teams are scheduled to play four more games starting Thursday … The three games in Seattle averaged 3 hours and 43 minutes … In a scoring change from the game in Chicago on Sunday, Cesar Hernandez of the White Sox was awarded a hit in the sixth inning instead of an error being charged to Kiké Hernández. The run Pivetta allowed is now earned.