Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before Monday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners that a key factor in Boston reaching the postseason would be playing better defense.
The Red Sox are a much more dangerous team, Cora said, when that’s the case. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case in the series opener at T-Mobile Park as Boston committed a pair of errors and the Mariners benefitted from four unearned runs in a 5-4 verdict.
“It’s frustrating, but we just got to keep working at it,” manager Alex Cora said on a postgame video conference. “We got to keeping putting in the work and hopefully we get into a quote on quote hot streak defensively, play clean baseball. If we do that we’re really good. Like I always say if you give the opposition more than 27 outs most of the time they’re going to take advantage. It seems like right now whenever we open the window for them, or the door, whatever you wanna call it, they take advantage and we pay the price. We just got to keep going.”
The biggest of miscues came on a two-out ground ball in the seventh inning that Kyle Schwarber couldn’t handle at first base. Jake Bauers ended up reaching first on the error, which was then followed up by a two-out single by leadoff man J.P. Crawford. Two batters after the error Mitch Haniger belted a three-run home run to give the Mariners a 5-2 lead.
A Hunter Renfroe fielding error in the bottom of the second allowed Abraham Toro to advance from second to third base with one out. Toro scored on a fielder’s choice one batter later before Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the last two batters of the frame.
The Red Sox have allowed 33 unearned runs since the All-Star break, which is the most in the American League and the second most in all of Major League Baseball, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
“We’ve been struggling defensively all season. We have some good stretches that we play good defense, and when we do that most of the time it seems like we win games. That’s the bottom line. At this level, you have to be good defensively,” Cora said.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Mariners:
— Eduardo Rodriguez put together a good start as he went six innings while allowing one earned run on six hits. Rodriguez struck out six batters as 74 of his 107 batters went for strikes.
“He did a good job. He made some adjustments, they put together good at bats early on. It was a grind for him early on, but something clicked and he gave us six,” Cora said. “He made some pitches to end the second inning and after that he felt great and gave us a chance to win.”
— Boston made it interesting with back-to-back home runs from Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers during the eighth inning. The Red Sox scored three of their four runs on homers as Jose Iglesias (2-for-3, two RBIs) belted his first of his Red Sox season in the third inning.
— Cora explained how Chris Sale continues to be asymptomatic after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Cora said that it’s possible the Red Sox ace could return as soon as this weekend against the Baltimore Orioles.
— And Sale was just one of the COVID-related updates Cora offered. He also explained how Martín Pérez likely will be activated Tuesday while closer Matt Barnes is expected to make a Double-A start for the Portland Sea Dogs before making his way back to Boston.
Boston now had nine players on their COVID-19 Injured Reserve list following Monday’s activation of Hirokazu Sawamura.
— The Red Sox will return to face the Mariners in Seattle on Tuesday with first pitch again scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET. You can watch it live on NESN with pregame beginning at. 9 p.m.
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