OAKLAND, Calif. — As bold as it was, the Red Sox tried running on Ramón Laureano again.
And for the third time in the series, Laureano made them pay with a perfect throw and a momentum-changing out on the bases as the Sox took a 7-3 loss to the Oakland A’s on Thursday to begin the year 2-6.
Mookie Betts was thrown out trying to get to third base with no outs and the Sox down four in the ninth, a deflating moment that sealed the series in the A’s favor.
After the game, manager Alex Cora talked about how the coaching staff was just as responsible as the players for the Sox’ poor start. Cora said they needed to be better.
Did the staff prepare the players ahead of time and discuss how aggressive they wanted to be on Laureano, who now has 12 outfield assists in 58 major league games, more than double any other player since he arrived in the big leagues?
“Yeah, we did,” Cora said. “The three plays were bang-bang plays, but that one today can’t happen. And he knows it.”
Red Sox baserunning coach Tom Goodwin said the team talked about Laureano before the series, but didn’t prepare for what was to come.
“He’s obviously very good,” Goodwin said. “And we knew he had a good arm coming in. But when you get out there and it’s the competition side of you that takes over, we’re not running thinking we can’t make it. It comes down to, ‘I think I can make it and we’re going to make him prove us wrong.’ This week, he proved us wrong three times.”
Did the Sox not give him enough credit by pushing him three times?
“We knew he had a good arm,” Goodwin said. “You don’t really prepare for hitting a ball off the wall and he jumps up against the wall, comes up and makes an off-balance throw but it’s on target. You don’t really prepare for that. You prepare for if he’s coming straight in and has a good angle, we’re going to stop. But other than that, we’re going to make him make plays. Hats off to him, he made the plays.”
Betts said he was properly prepared, but couldn’t help himself.
“Yeah, I should have known,” he said. “He’s pretty much thrown everybody out. That’s what my instincts told me to do and I should have let myself know before anything even happened that my run meant nothing.
“I mean, yeah, he’s obviously a great thrower and everything but we don’t want to play passive either. You have to make him make those plays and he made them all. Tip your cap. He did an excellent job.”
The Sox have been aggressive all season on the bases, just like last year, and don’t plan to change.
“We’re going to push the envelope,” Goodwin said. “Mookie’s is the one we shouldn’t do. We’re just looking for baserunners right there. We don’t need him at third base, we just need guys on base. That’s something Mookie understood. It’s one of those things that competition sometimes it takes over, it doesn’t allow you to make the play you should make, you try to make the play you want to make. Sometimes it burns you.”