By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Tired of hearing it yet? The Red Sox need to play better. They’ve been inconsistent. They’ve struggled to pitch, hit with men on base, play defense and run the bases.
And lest there be any doubt, we now have our defining moment of the season, courtesy of a 9-5 loss to the Texas Rangers last night at Fenway Park.
There’s only one word for this kind of thing: embarrassing.
Oh, but wait, there’s a lot of baseball left. Is there? The Red Sox have played 68 games and sit a perfectly mediocre 34-34. They lost 54 games during all of last year, 57 counting playoffs. They would need to play .600 baseball over the final 94 games just to finish with 90 victories, which will probably get them into the playoffs. But that will leave them woefully short of a division title in an American League East that features two clubs (New York and Tampa) who want to win more than the Red Sox do.
Let’s say this part clearly, too: the Red Sox don’t want to win as much as they did a year ago. That doesn’t mean they stink. It just means that the edge they played with a year ago is completely gone – at least for now – and we have no choice to believe that the issues relate directly to last year’s World Series victory, which the Red Sox seem to be holding onto as if they never need to let it go.
Watch Alex Cora after last night’s loss. Cora was ejected during the game and was not in the dugout when Brock Holt misplayed Hunter Pence’s inside-the-park home run (above), but we all know his probable opinions on the play. If you need to watch the play again, do it. And pay attention to the way Brock Holt lifts his leg up onto the wall at the end of the play for seemingly no good reason.
Holt said after the game that he thought the ball was in the seats. Maybe so. But he also doesn’t seem interested on getting down off the wall, and we have to wonder: don’t you think at least some fans were yelling that the ball was in play?
So here’s Cora when asked about the Holt play and, subsequently, the overall play of the club. And not to psychoanalyze, but his fidgeting (which we all do on some level when uncomfortable or anxious) suggests he is covering for his player and biting his tongue.
In the end, here’s the point: the Red Sox are underachieving this year – and woefully. Nobody expected them to win 108 games again. But we expected them to turn the page and make another run at a title – even if they didn’t win it – and we expected them to look engaged.
Rightly or wrongly, this team looks like it doesn’t care. And title or no title, that is never, ever good enough.