The 2021 Major League Baseball season, if you can believe it, is coming to a close in just a few short weeks. And the Boston Red Sox are holding on to first place in the American League Wild Card standings.
Reading that last sentence probably would make any fan feel pretty confident about their team in the final weeks, but the Red Sox are clinging to a one-game lead that the New York Yankees helped provide them thanks to a seven-game losing streak.
Now, the Red Sox amassed needed wins of late, but they have not capitalized in the biggest moments. The latest moment came Friday night in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox to open the three-game series. The White Sox are in first place in the AL Central and have a pretty dominant duo of Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks out of the bullpen. Boston didn’t lose to a bad team Friday night, but it had opportunities to win and it didn’t.
“They made some nice plays,” manager Alex Cora said of the White Sox after the game. “The play by (César) Hernández at the end ,that’s first and third with no outs, and we kept battling. That’s a good baseball game right there. Obviously we don’t like the walk to Hernández, the two-strike homer, we don’t like that. But overall it was a good-fought game against a good team. We had a chance throughout the night.”
They had a chance throughout the night indeed considering the Red Sox had at least one runner on in the third, fourth, sixth, seventh eighth and ninth innings.
You can’t win them all, and Boston still is dealing with its COVID-19 outbreak. But now is the perfect time to create some separation between the Yankees.
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Red Sox-White Sox game:
— J.D. Martinez was a late scratch from the lineup due to back spasms. Cora is trying to play it safe with the DH going forward.
“Throughtout BP he was telling me he didn’t feel right,” Cora said. “He was trying to see if it could get loose but it didn’t. So we had to play it smart. We stayed away from him today, let’s see how he feels (Saturday.) There’s a good chance we’ll stay away from him tomorrow, too.”
— Tanner Houck could have been better, but his outing wasn’t terrible.
The right-hander lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up four hits, three earned runs with as many walks and one strikeout.
“He made some pitches when he had to,” Cora said.
“The world’s still revolving,” Houck said. “Come back tomorrow and get back to work. Home runs are gonna happen, 0-2 mistakes are gonna happen. I’m more upset with myself that i just didn’t pitch to my, what I see are my strengths. If I pitch to my strengths and lose that way, I know I can look at myself in the mirror and say that I did everything that I could. I just felt like I didn’t pitch to my strengths … it’s part of the game. We’re all human. …”
— Cora elected to have Travis Shaw hit for Kiké Hernández in the ninth inning with two outs. There was no late-inning magic from Shaw this time around, but some wondered if replacing Hernández had to do with an injury or something that was COVID related.
“Right now you gotta maximize your roster,” Cora said, adding that a few guys “aren’t locked in right now.”
— Bobby Dalbec continued to be a bright spot for the Red Sox, hitting a home run and scoring two runs of his own. He also had a triple, and now is tied for second in the American League, but it’s not something he’s keeping track of.
“Never been a triple counter,” he told reporters.
— The Red Sox have yet to name a starting pitcher for Saturday, but Cora said there is a “good chance” it is Connor Seabold.
— The series continues Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field. First pitch gets underway at 7:10 p.m. ET, and you can watch it live on NESN.
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