Home News Red Sox back at .500 after loss to Rays

Red Sox back at .500 after loss to Rays

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BOSTON — For 31 straight games, the Red Sox left the ballpark with a record above .500.

But that ended with Monday’s 4-1 defeat to the Rays, leaving Boston with a 30-30 record through the first 60 games of the season.

With three straight losses, not to mention a 2-6 mark over their last eight games and a 9-16 mark since their eight-game winning streak ended on May 7, it suddenly feels like the Sox are at a crossroads.

A sense of urgency was in the air even before Monday’s contest started, as Boston held a team meeting to try to get back on the same page.

“I believe that we have a good club in here,” said Justin Turner, who belted a solo homer to account for the only run for Boston. “And I think that the sooner we get everyone believing that we’re a good team and that we can go out and win and compete every single night, that’s going to give us our best chance.”

In particular, defensive struggles have been a glaring issue of late.

While the “D” stepped up with home run robberies by center fielder Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo in the second and third innings, respectively, the bats weren’t able to sustain much against Rays ace Shane McClanahan.

Frustration boiled over in the bottom of the eighth when Rafael Devers struck out looking as Alex Verdugo was thrown out stealing for an inning-ending double play. Red Sox manager Alex Cora was ejected and got his money’s worth afterward in a heated argument with home-plate umpire Chris Guccione.

Cora said he was actually upset about a pitch to Rob Refsnyder the inning before that he felt should have been a pitch-timer violation to set up a 1-0 count. Instead, it went as a called strike. At the time the Sox had two on and two outs. Refsnyder wound up striking out.

“It changed the complexion of the at-bat, the first pitch to Ref. It was a pitch-clock violation,” Cora said. “A 1-0 count with first and second and no outs is a different at-bat. And it was a ball. Rule-wise, it was a ball. That’s why I was so upset. That one is not about judging or the strike zone or whatever. It’s a rule. And if the clock is at zero, it’s a ball. And that’s why I was so upset.”

The Red Sox will attempt to get rid of their frustration and regain the identity they had earlier in the season out on the road following a 2-5 homestand.

As they head to Cleveland for a three-game series that starts on Tuesday, followed by three at Yankee Stadium over the weekend, the Red Sox will be fighting to stay afloat in the postseason race. Boston is currently 5 1/2 games back in the Wild Card standings and 12 games behind the Rays in the American League East.

“This is where we’re at,” said Cora. “When the season started awhile ago, we were 0-0 and now we’re 30-30. Sixty games under our belt and we’ve still got plenty of them left. Keep getting better.”

The Sox are expected to get a boost on Friday night when Adam Duvall returns from the 60-day injured list. They could also get Trevor Story back in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to get healthy obviously,” said Cora. “But I think at the end of the day, the defensive part of it is what we have to improve. If we can clean up the defense, we’re going to start winning a lot of games.”

While defensive improvements would be nice, the quickest fix is for the Red Sox to start hitting like they did in April and most of May.

“We have a good offense,” said Turner. “We’ve played really good offense all year but in a series like this, when you don’t score runs, it’s easy to point out what didn’t happen, and when you don’t have offense, it’s hard to create energy from within. So you know, we’ve got to find a way to create our own energy.”

Devers getting red-hot for the first time this season would be another thing that could get the Red Sox rolling real fast.

“There’s still 102 games remaining,” said Devers. “We know how baseball is. There’s ups and downs. We know that we’re capable of winning games and that’s one of the things that we’re going to focus on in the next few weeks.”

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