Boston Red Sox

  • TORONTO, ON - JUNE 28: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his walk-off hit single in the ninth inning to defeat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 at the Rogers Centre on June 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ON – JUNE 28: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his walk-off hit single in the ninth inning to defeat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 at the Rogers Centre on June 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

    Championships come at a price, in any sport, and the question always concerns whether one is willing to pay it. That is true for players and for management, and the Red Sox now have the evidence to question both.

    For the third time in Toronto this season, the Red Sox plunged to their demise last night, losing a 6-5 game to the Toronto Blue Jays despite taking a 5-4 lead into the ninth. The easy second guess this time was the absence of right-hander closer Tanner Houck, who failed to travel with the team to Canada because he is unvaccinated. But the team also lost games earlier this year when Tyler Danish surrendered a grand slam to Bo Bichette after the Sox tied the game (on April 25) in the top of the eighth – it was 2-2 at the time – and when the Sox blew a 5-2 lead in the ninth inning the next night (April 26) as Jake Diekman allowed a two-run home run to George Springer.

    And so, a team that spent far too much time this season looking for a closer finally has one … but he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make the trip.

    “We go with the 26 that are here,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of his roster. “We tried to get 27 outs and we didn’t do it. Every time we lose, it’s disappointing.”

    Fair enough.

    But some losses hurt more than others.

    Fact: the Red Sox have now suffered three late-inning breakdowns in Toronto this season because their bullpen has failed spectacularly. Much of this goes on chief baseball office Chaim Bloom, who built a relief corps of Robleses, Diekmans and Danishes who have been, predictably, devoured. The Jays have a young, dynamic lineup splattered with good right-handed hitters who have seemingly taken turns beating the Red Sox over the head this season.

    Can we question Houck and, for that matter, center fielder Jarren Duran for failing to make the trip? You bet we can – and it has nothing to do with politics. Earlier this season, before a May trip to Toronto, the final members of the Yankees (believed to be Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo) got vaccinated so the team would be fully stocked for a series with the Blue Jays. The Yankees have subsequently gone 4-2 in Canada this year and are running away with the American League East.

    The Red Sox, by contrast, are now 2-7 against the Jays and 1-4 in Canada, where they could just as easily be 4-1.

    And before anyone suggests the Sox are all just fine with this, let’s not forget: in the spring, the Sox had Xander Bogaerts get on the phone while the team recruited infielder Trevor Story, at least partly to encourage Story to get vaccinated because – you guessed it – the team faced important games in Toronto. Now Houck and Duran are absent and we’re supposed to believe everyone is OK with it?

    Sorry. No dice.

    Consider the lead in today’s Globe account of the most recent Sox loss, after which Alex Speier wrote this:

    As the Red Sox prepared to face the Blue Jays, one member of the team took stock of the formidable righthanded hitters amassed by Toronto’s lineup. As much as the team might benefit from having John Schreiber as a late-innings weapon, he noted, “You’d rather have two of those guys.”

    All of that said, let’s not leave Bloom out of this. The Red Sox have now lost a whopping 10 times this season when leading or tied after eight innings, which really has nothing to do with vax cards. Instead, that has something to do with missing credentials of a different kind, leading to a question that is downright worrisome.

    Do the Red Sox want to win a championship this year or not?

    A quick look at Boston’s breakdowns in Toronto this season:

  • Woe Canada, Part I

    TORONTO, ON - APRIL 25: Bo Bichette #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his grand slam with teammates George Springer #4 and Bradley Zimmer #7 against the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on April 25, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ON – APRIL 25: Bo Bichette #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his grand slam with teammates George Springer #4 and Bradley Zimmer #7 against the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on April 25, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

  • Woe Canada, Part II

    TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: George Springer #4 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his two-run home run in the 9th inning to tie the game during a MLB game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ON – APRIL 26: George Springer #4 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his two-run home run in the 9th inning to tie the game during a MLB game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

  • Woe Canada, Part III

    TORONTO, ON - JUNE 28: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his walk-off single in the ninth inning to defeat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 at the Rogers Centre on June 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ON – JUNE 28: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his walk-off single in the ninth inning to defeat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 at the Rogers Centre on June 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)