OAKLAND, Calif. — Take heart, Sox fans. The manager is as mad about the Sox sloppy play as you are.
“I pay attention to details,’’ Alex Cora said after bad baserunning, a missed flyball, and another crummy performance by a starting pitcher created a 7-3 Red Sox loss to the A’s Thursday. “I love paying attention to details and that’s something I took pride in last year and right now we’re not paying attention to details. That’s on us. That’s on me. That’s on the staff. I know there have been mistakes, but at the same time . . . it gets to a point where honestly, today I was watching and there were a few things that were great last year that we’re not doing so good right now. It’s early enough that we can clean it up, but that’s on us.’’
A routine flyball dropped on the warning track between Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Eduardo Rodriguez coughed up a 3-0 lead and couldn’t finish the fourth inning. Betts made a boneheaded baserunning decision in the ninth, getting gunned down going to third with no outs and the Sox trailing by four.
“It’s a bad decision and he knows it,’’ said the manager “That one can’t happen and he knows it.
“It’s not that we’re going to be doing fundamentals every day and all that, but obviously we’re going to talk a little more about the game. We got to get it going. Regardless of the results — you win or lose — but stuff like that can’t happen and that’s a reflection on us. I’m accountable and I expect better things out of the group.’’
“You didn’t see that last year, Last year was last year. We didn’t play well in Seattle. We didn’t play well here. We have to play better. That’s the bottom line. I take pride in that stuff. Details win ball games. And for four games they (Oakland) did a lot of good things . . . That was a reflection of who we were last year. I know we can get to that level, but we have to start getting after it.’’
There’s no sugar-coating this. The start of the Red Sox season has been a big bowl of bad. Six losses in eight games. Last place in the AL East. I find myself starting a lot of sentences with “Not to pile on, but . . . ‘’
Only the Arizona Diamondbacks can save the first-to-worst Red Sox before they stagger home for the Fenway Opener on Tuesday.
Not to pile on, but the Red Sox starting rotation has been hideously bad. “He’s The Ace” has turned into “Bum Of The Day Club. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Rodriguez gave up three in the third, and three more in the fourth, including the obligatory home run. Red Sox starters have given up 14 homers in eight games. At least one in every game. The pitching line for the “best rotation in baseball”: 35.2 innings, 36 earned runs on 48 hits and 22 walks. They are an aggregate 0-6 with a 9.08 ERA.
Rodriguez is driving Cora crazy. The manager has done everything he can to cajole consistency and maturity from the lefty, but it just gets more and more frustrating.
You know you are going bad when the key play in a loss is a can-of-corn that drops on to the warning track between two Gold Glove outfielders. It was still a 4-3 game and it looked like Rodriguez was out of a jam when Stephen Piscotty flied to right with two out in the fourth. But Betts and Bradley Jr. both pulled away. Nobody called for it. The ball landed for two extra runs.
The Sox ran into four outs on the bases in four games in Oakland.
Not to pile on, but they could easily be 0-8. They trailed 6-1 in the fifth in their one win in Seattle and got a ton of breaks after trailing 3-0 when they won in Oakland. They already have a four-game losing streak. They did not have a four-game losing streak during their 176 games in 2018. At minus-19, the Sox have the worst run differential in baseball.
Bradley is hitting .194, Benintendi .207, Betts .235, Christian Vazquez .190, Eduardo Nunez .130, Rafael Devers, .233. The Sox have hit eight homers and given up 18. They’ve committed eight errors.
Not to pile on, but here’s what one Hall of Fame pitcher e-mailed me after Sale’s second outing: “If you want to look at what Sale’s 5-year, $145 million deal should look like check out Blake Snell’s 13 K performance. Why the hurry (extending Sale)? Plus, in spite of what the Sox say, you’ve got to get ready not only physically, but mentally for defending your World Championship. Can’t do it on back fields with your starters.’’
It’s still early. Keep telling yourselves that. But these Red Sox thus far are Boston’s biggest sports disappointment since the 2018-2019 regular season Celtics.
The manager knows it’s time to start playing better baseball.
Not to pile on, but the idea of saving bullets for October would look arrogant and foolish if this team somehow doesn’t make it to October.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at email@example.com