This isn’t what Rafael Devers wanted. Especially when his Red Sox are struggling the way they are.
He became the 14th player on their injured list Saturday because of right hamstring inflammation, meaning he could only watch their last two losses to the Blue Jays, including Sunday’s 8-4 defeat, the finish of a three-game sweep. He can’t do anything about it right now.
He can’t stop the bleeding, the five-game skid. He can’t help improve on the 12-29 record against American League East opponents, or the nine losses in 10 games that have dropped the Red Sox back to .500 at 48-48.
“I feel bad,” he said before Sunday’s game. “I feel like I want to be out there and I can’t. I’m not able.”
The Sox committed three errors Sunday, tying a season high. They have looked out of sorts defensively, no more so than in the fifth inning.
The Sox were already down, 5-2, Toronto scoring five against Brayan Bello in the first. He did follow it with three scoreless frames, and manager Alex Cora went to Hirokazu Sawamura, Bello departing having allowed nine hits and two walks..
Sawamura allowed runs on an RBI single and fielder’s choice to make it 7-2, but got George Springer to ground what could have been an inning-ender to third. Jeter Downs booted it, putting runners on second and third for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Guerrero hit a slow grounder to first, which Bobby Dalbec fielded on the grass halfway to the mound. He flipped to Sawamura, who lost sight of the bag and stumbled reaching in vain to tag it. It was ruled a single, and made it 8-2.
Downs is a natural second baseman playing third in the absence of Devers, who tried to play through soreness in his hamstring until he couldn’t anymore. The loss of the American League leader in hits (113) felt like a gut punch even beyond the team’s other injuries, which include Trevor Story at second — Yolmer Sánchez was called up Friday and played in all three games, including pitching on Friday — at J.D. Martinez at designated hitter.
“We have taken a step back defensively the last 14 days,” Cora said after the game. “We were really good defensively. Yeah, we have moving parts. But slow the game down, catch the ball, throw to the right base. Don’t panic out there. It seems like right now the game speeds up at one point in the game and it looks horrible.”
The Sox did tally nine hits. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his third homer of the season and second of the series, a solo shot in the sixth inning off reliever Trevor Richards. Jarren Duran regrouped after a tough weekend, going 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, and two runs scored.
Yet without Devers, the Sox were missing their knockout punch, and at a critical juncture. Devers is hopeful he can return as soon as possible.
“I want to come back here and be 100 percent ready to go and help my team win,” Devers said. “I can’t wait for those 10 days to be up.”
They are up on Aug. 2, the same day as the trade deadline. Devers could be welcomed back to a team whose mission is a lot different than the one envisioned heading into spring training.
“You can talk about the trade deadline or whatever. We’re playing bad baseball. We’re back to where we were in April,” Cora said. “The brand of baseball we have been playing is awful.”