BOSTON (CBS) — Boston manager Alex Cora did not mince words after a frustrating and embarrassing loss Tuesday night. His Red Sox currently stink.
“We’re not good right now,” Cora said following a 9-5 defeat to the Texas Rangers. “We’re playing .500 baseball.”
And that’s exactly where the Red Sox sit at the moment at 34-34. They’ve lost five of six following a four-game win streak, and losers of nine of their last 14.
“We have to pitch better. We have to put together better at-bats. We just have to be better,” Cora continued. “I’ve been saying that all season long. We’ve been very inconsistent at what we do. Tomorrow we have to show up and try to win a ballgame. Find a way. But we absolutely have to be better than this if we want to be in the hunt.”
Fenway Park was not a friendly place to visitors last season with Boston going 57-24, the best home record in all of baseball. This year they’re just 15-17 in front of their home fans.
Tuesday night’s loss was one of their most brutal defeats of the season, too. The wheels came off and frustration boiled over in the bottom of the fifth inning as both Cora and Andrew Benintendi were given the boot in an extremely odd fashion.
Benintendi was fired up at home plate umpire Angel Hernandez over a called strike. After he grounded out to shortstop, Benintendi shouted some words of disapproval Hernandez’s way. Hernandez didn’t hear them, but first-base umpire Vic Carapazza did, and he promptly tossed Benintendi from the game in an extremely nonchalant manner.
Alerted to his ejected once he reached the dugout, Benintendi lost it. So did Cora, who went out to defend his player and ended up getting tossed as well.
“I’ve got to go out there and defend my player,” said Cora. “I didn’t agree with that. It’s not like he’s at the plate screaming at Angel whatever. That’s not the first time somebody disagrees and screams from afar at the umpire, so I just let him know and that was it.”
“I didn’t know until I was halfway through the dugout,” Benintendi said of his ejection. “Yeah, I mean, I thought [the pitch] was off the plate, but I didn’t say anything to Angel. I grounded out and I was frustrated and all I said was, ‘You suck.’ Angel didn’t even know I was thrown out until I went back out there. Obviously he didn’t hear that and I’m 100 feet away. Vic throws me out walking back to the dugout and I was surprised.”
Benintendi shouted a few more choice words at Carapazza before finally retreating to the Boston clubhouse. He too voiced his displeasure with the team’s play after the loss.
“Yeah, it’s not going the way we’d want it to go,” he said of the season thus far. “We’re not playing our best baseball. It’s been a grind so far. All you can do is come to the field every day and try to catch a hot streak and just try to do one thing at a time until everything starts clicking.”
Things got worse for Boston the next inning in one of the oddest home runs you’ll ever see. Hunter Pence lifted one to shallow right field, which always has a chance of becoming a four-bagger at Fenway Park. Brock Holt — who moved to right in place of Benintendi — reached into the stands for the ball, only to have it glance off his glove and bounce back into the field of play. It rolled around right field for a bit before coming to a stop in front of the wall near the visitor’s bullpen.
Holt thought the ball went into the stands for a homer, so he stayed hanging on the right field wall for a few moments, appearing velcroed to the top. But the ball was sitting on the warning track a short distance away from him, and as Holt hung out and Mookie Betts stood motionless in center, Pence rumbled around the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park homer to give Texas a 9-3 lead.
It wasn’t a great look for the Red Sox, but was very symbolic of the season so far.
“I got in the stands a little bit and I thought the ball went over the fence. Just one of those things where I’ve kind of got to know where the ball is,” Holt said after the loss. “The ball was slicing away from me and when I ended up two rows deep in the stands, I assumed it had gone out. I had no idea it was still in play. That’s kind of embarrassing on my part.
“Got to do a better job of paying more attention,” he added. “That one was on me. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to keep Hunter to a triple there, but I’ve got to go get that ball and get it in.”
It was the kind of mental error that happens when the team is stuck in a rut, and the Red Sox are currently stuck in a pretty big rut.
“I think guys are frustrated,” said Holt. “We try not to be, but games like tonight, it’s embarrassing. We’re not playing well. We’re not playing up to our capabilities. We know we’re good. We haven’t clicked. We haven’t put it together. That’s something we need to get going because we have talent in this clubhouse and we feel like we’re a good team. We just haven’t been that good team yet.”
Tuesday was a bad night that featured a handful of bad (and extremely odd) moments for the Red Sox, which has been all too common for the defending champs this season. They now sit eight games behind the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, and three games out of a Wild Card spot.