‘It will get better.’ Alex Cora remains confident, despite another Red Sox loss
The Red Sox had an opportunity to get their first series win of the season and head off on a difficult road trip to New York and Tampa Bay with some momentum. Instead, they squandered it in an 8-1 loss to the Orioles on Marathon Monday, settling for a series split in a matchup they should have been able to take advantage of.
Some well-hit balls went right at Baltimore fielders, but the reigning World Series champs shouldn’t have needed luck against the Orioles. Baltimore starter Dan Straily began the game with a 19.29 ERA, then had a no-hitter going through four innings. The Red Sox (6-11) managed just four hits in the game.
“There’s a lot of searching from the lineup,” said manager Alex Cora. “We’ve had some good games and then we don’t. It hasn’t been as consistent as we know we can be. There’s a few guys who are searching.”
J.D. Martinez was 2 for 4 with a double, the only Sox hitter who had anything going.
The first hit Straily allowed was an infield single by Xander Bogaerts to lead off the fifth inning. Rafael Devers moved Bogaerts to third with a single to right and Steve Pearce scored him with a ground out, giving the Sox their only run.
“It will get better,” Cora said. “There’s no timetable. The sooner the better, obviously. I’m not saying, ‘Let’s wait a month and fix this.’ We’re working at it on a daily basis.”
Hector Velazquez (0-1, 2.84 ERA) made another three-inning start, but was nowhere near as successful as he was in Arizona, giving up two hits and a run with four walks, a strikeout, and a wild pitch. He threw 57 pitches, 29 for strikes. (Cora said the spot starter was going to be limited to four or five.)
Velazquez said his arm felt fatigued in the second, when he allowed his run on a leadoff walk of Rio Ruiz, a wild pitch, and a Renato Nunez RBI single.
“Today the game was early, so I feel my body was slow, too,” Velazquez said. “I pitched one inning Saturday but I felt good today, I feel good, and when we were warming up in the bullpen, I [felt] good too. But in the second inning, slow.”
The Boston bullpen, needing to patch together six innings, wasn’t up to the task. Marcus Walden, optioned to Triple A Pawtucket after the game, gave up a three-run home run to Dwight Smith Jr. during his two innings. After scoreless frames from Colten Brewer and Brandon Workman, Chris Davis crushed an 89-m.p.h. slider from Heath Hembree in the eighth for a two-run homer.
Davis, in an 0-for-54 slump on Saturday morning, went 4 for 12 with 6 RBIs in the final three games of the series.
“He was mad at himself,” Cora said of Hembree. “He knows that he has to manage the game too. You have to avoid damage in those situations.”
The Fenway crowd booed after the Orioles scored their final two runs against Tyler Thornburg in the ninth on a walk and back-to-back doubles, with a few “Let’s Go Bruins” chants mixed in for good measure.
The highlight of the game for the Sox was Christian Vazquez’s genuine enthusiasm for playing second base, something the catcher was asked to do after injuries and illnesses put Cora in a bind while crafting the lineup.
Vazquez found out he’d be at second around 9 a.m. and looked delighted when he started a 4-6-3 double play to end the first inning, even though he hesitated for a moment and opted for an overhand toss instead of a normal underhand flip to Bogaerts.
“I don’t want to miss Bogey,” Vazquez said. “I want to hit him in the chest and I was trying to go under, but not a good idea.”
Vazquez also made a nice diving tag on the back end of an 8-4 putout in the second.
“It was fun,” Vazquez said. “It was something different. But the more important thing is getting the ‘W,’ but we didn’t get it. Get it tomorrow.”