The Red Sox foolishly rested their starting pitchers in March and April in expectation that they would have more in the tank for October.
Now there is not going to be an October, so Alex Cora probably will be able to shut down Chris Sale and David Price in the final weeks of this lost season.
Sunday at Fenway was one of those maddening losses that so typifies this annoying Red Sox season. The S.S. Dombrowski extended its trip to nowhere and made it clear that there will be no games for this team in October.
The Sox lost to the Angels, 5-4, in 10 innings. It took 4 hours and 2 minutes. The Sox left nine runners on base. Cora “rested” Mookie Betts against a lefty making his second start in the big leagues. Chris Owings, released by the Royals this year, hit in Betts’s leadoff spot and went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts (Owings fanned with the bases loaded to end the second). Andrew Cashner was a dumpster fire again, establishing that he is perhaps the worst midsummer acquisition in Sox history, and that he should never get the ball to start another game. Rafael Devers (running on his own) was thrown out trying to steal third base with one out in the second. Attempting to sacrifice (on his own) in the eighth, Christian Vazquez bunted a popup that had more hang time than a Ray Guy punt. After the failed sacrifice, pinch runner Betts was caught stealing.
And when it was over, there was still plenty of delusion.
“We’ve got a good team, we really do, regardless of what our record says,’’ said Matt Barnes, who gave up a game-tying homer in the eighth, good for Boston’s 22nd blown save of the season. “We are by no means out of this thing.’’
“I think my stuff is really good,’’ added Cashner, who evidently sees Nolan Ryan’s image when he looks in the mirror. “I’m just not getting ahead of the hitters. I’ve been doing this a long time . . . There’s a lot of season left. I might have eight starts left.’’
Let’s hope not. Cashner Sunday lasted 1⅔ innings. He walked five, hit one, and gave up three runs. He threw 51 pitches, 24 for strikes. He loaded the bases on 10 pitches while recording no outs in the top of the first. In the second, he started the inning by walking a guy hitting .206 and a guy hitting .147.
Cashner was acquired from the Orioles for a pair of 17-year-old non-prospects July 13. He is 56-86 lifetime and has never pitched on a winning team in the big leagues. He is on record saying he would retire before he would shave his beard.
I vote for keeping the “Duck Dynasty” look and retiring. Cashner has started six games since Dombrowski traded for him. He is 1-4 with an 8.01 ERA. He has allowed a whopping 61 baserunners and 27 earned runs in 30⅓ innings. There have been 41 hits, 17 walks, and three hit batsmen. He is also homerlicious — seven bombs in 30 ⅓ innings. This guy makes Johnny “Way Back” Wasdin look like Juan Marichal.
Cora wouldn’t entertain speculation about pulling Cashner from the rotation. Understood. The manager’s already got Rick Porcello (5.67) and ailing Price to worry about. But Cora said there would be discussions about the future of the rotation when the staff convenes Monday in Cleveland.
Cora also said he had no regrets about resting Betts against rookie Patrick Sandoval.
As for the dubious decisions by Devers and Vazquez, the manager went into Belichick overdrive, refusing to say that the players were acting on their own.
“We did a few things to try to make things happen,’’ Cora said with a smile. “As a group today, we did some things we don’t normally do.’’
The Red Sox have played 120 games and have 42 left. They are a mere four games over .500. They are 7½ games out of the second wild-card spot. They have to overcome two teams from a group that includes Cleveland, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and Oakland. They are way behind all of them.
Cora was full of confidence before Sunday’s loss. He talked about greeting newcomer Owings by telling him, “We’ve got a shot to go to the World Series and you’re going to be part of it. We’ve got a real shot. Not a fake shot.’’
Five hours later, as the Sox packed for Cleveland, the manager sounded a little less confident.
Explaining the latest frustrating loss, Cora shrugged and said, “It’s something we’ve been doing the whole season. Inconsistent. That’s why it’s tough to make the playoffs.’’
It is not happening, folks, no matter what NESN keeps telling you. The Red Sox need sweeps, not splits. Since the eight-game losing streak put them in the big wild-card hole, they are treading water. And they are running out of games.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com.