Red Sox

Red Sox find a way to lose to Tribe, 8-4

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Red Sox find a way to lose to Tribe, 8-4

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- Just when it seemed like the Red Sox had run out of ways to lose games in the first week, they found some more Wednesday night.

After falling victim to poor starting pitching and an anemic offense in the first four contests, the Red Sox combined poor relief work and a mental lapse to lose 8-4 to the Cleveland Indians, dropping them to 0-5. With a loss in the road trip finale Thursday afternoon, they can return for their home opener with their worst start to a season since 1945.

The Sox trailed 3-2 in the sixth when it all fell apart for them. Dennys Reyes faced three hitters and put all three on base -- two by hit batsman and another by walk. With the bases loaded, Kevin Youkilis couldn't glove a liner by Michael Brantley. Youkilis stepped on third for one force out, but when he threw to the plate, catcher Jason Varitek failed to tag Travis Buck, instead stepping on the plate.

Asdrubal Cabrera then drove a three-run homer into the seats in right off Dan Wheeler, capping a four-run inning.

The Sox stitched together two runs in the second on an infield chopper by Marco Scutaro and an RBI groundout by Jacoby Ellsbury. Adrian Gonzalez added a two-run homer, his first homer as a member of the Red Sox, in the seventh.

Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed three runs in five innings, needing 96 pitches to record 15 outs. The Sox have yet to get a quality start after one full turn through their rotation.

STAR OF THE GAME: Asdrubal Cabrera
The Cleveland second baseman delivered the crushing blow, a three-run homer off Dan Wheeler in the four-run sixth that put the game effectively out of reach.

Both Wheeler and Jason Varitek maintained that Wheeler's pitch -- a two-seamer down and in -- was where the Sox wanted it to be and credited Cabrera with a good at-bat.

Cabrera also chipped in with a run-scoring single in the second to account for the third Cleveland run of the night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Shin-Soo Choo
Choo, the Indians' best player, snapped an 0-for-13 hitless streak with a two-run homer in the first off Daisuke Matsuzaka. It was Choo's first homer of the season and gave the Indians their first lead of the night.

GOAT: Dennys Reyes
There were plenty of culprits contributing to the Red Sox' fifth straight setback, but Reyes was perhaps the most obvious.

Brought in to pitch the bottom of the sixth with the Sox trailing 3-2, the plan was for Reyes to face "six or seven'' guys and get the Sox through the seventh inning.

Instead, Reyes couldn't find the strike zone with a GPS. He threw 12 pitches, 11 of them for balls and failed to get out a single hitter. He hit the first two Indians he faced, leaving the bases loaded for Wheeler.

TURNING POINT
With the bases loaded and no out in the sixth, Michael Brantley lined to Kevin Youkilis at third. Youkilis, torn between trying to catch the ball and letting it drop so as to start a double play, reached for the liner, only to have it drop out of his glove.

He stepped on third to force out Matt LaPorta, but that took the force out at home. Youkilis threw to the plate where Jason Varitek needed to tag oncmoing runner Travis Buck. But because Varitek didn't see Youkilis step on the bag, he simply stood at home as he received the throw, not realizing he needed to tag Buck.

With Buck safe, the inning unraveled further when Cabrera launched his three-run shot to right.

BY THE NUMBERS
The Red Sox were a woeful 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, stranding seven -- including runners at third base three times in the span of four innings.

QUOTE OF NOTE
"This game will humble you in a hurry and it's doing that to us right now...Sometimes winning's not easy. Sometimes you're on a roll and everything's going your way. But when it's not, we've got to find a way to win a game.'' -- Terry Francona

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

BOSTON -- Just as a batter can subconsciously play to avoid losing, rather than to win, a manager can operate with a fear of failure. Such an unwitting approach may have contributed John Farrell’s downfall, and is an area where Alex Cora can set himself apart.

A lot has been written about the value of authenticity in leadership. It’s one thing to have the charisma and conviction needed to land a position of power. It’s another to take over a pressure-cooker job, like manager of the Red Sox, and carry the fortitude to stay true to yourself, continue to let those qualities shine.

Cora did not appear to pull any punches in his days with ESPN. The 42-year-old engaged in Twitter debates with media members and fans. And throughout his baseball life, he showed his colors.

Via Newsday’s Dave Lennon, here’s a scene from 2010 when Cora was with the Mets: 

Last year, Cora spoke out against the league office's rule requiring minorities always be interviewed.

Perhaps most interesting of all, when Chris Sale cut up White Sox jerseys, Cora was Dennis Eckersley-like in his assessment:

“What he did is not acceptable,” Cora said of Sale. “If I’m a veteran guy, I’m going to take exception. if I’m a young guy, I’m going to take exception. Because as a young guy on a team that is actually struggling right now, somebody has to show me the ropes of how to act as a big leaguer. And this is not the way you act as a big leaguer. Forget the trades, forget who you are.

“What you do in that clubhouse, you got to act like a professional. And that’s one thing my agent, Scott Boras, used to tell me when I got to the big leagues: act like a professional. Chris Sale didn’t do it. He’s not showing the veterans that you respect the game. He’s not showing the rookies how to be a big leaguer, and that’s what I take exception to.”

Take out Chris Sale’s name from the above quotation and insert David Price’s. Describes Price's incident with Eckersley perfectly, doesn't it? 

Now, no manager can say what they’re really thinking all the time. Cora’s not in the media anymore. His new job description is different. 

But when you consider the great success of Terry Francona -- and why he succeeded in this market beyond simply winning -- what stands out is how comfortable Francona appears in his own skin. How genuine he seems. 

There is a way to acknowledge, as a manager, when something is off. A way to do so gently but genuinely. A way to say what you feel -- and a way to say what you feel must be said -- while operating without fear of the players you manage. 

Ultimately, most every comment Francona makes is intended to shield his players. But Francona shows his personality as he goes (or if you want to be a bit cynical, he sells his personality marvelously). Those little self-deprecating jokes -- he charms the hell out of everyone. The media, the fans. The Cult of Tito has a real following, because he feels real. Because he is real. 

Farrell was not fake. But he did have a hard time letting his personality come across consistently, to his detriment. He was reserved, in part because that just appeared to be his nature. But the job must have, with time, forced him to withdraw even further. As everything Farrell said (and did) was picked apart in the market, it likely became easiest just to play it safe in every facet -- speaking to the media, speaking to players.

The Sox’ biggest undertaking in 2017 seemed to be a nothing-to-see-here campaign. It was all fine. No David Ortiz, no home runs, no problem. Manny Machado was loved. The media was the problem, not any attitude or attitudes inside the clubhouse. Base running was a net positive -- you name it, none of it was ever tabbed as a problem publicly by the manager, or anyone else.

A perpetually defensive stance was the public image. Issues were never addressed or poorly defused, so questions always lingered.

Maybe Cora cannot admonish Sale as he did a year ago now that he’s managing Sale. Not publicly, anyway. But even as a quote-unquote player's manager, the job still requires authority, which should be doled out just as it was earned: through authentic comments and actions.

"My job as the manager is to set the culture, the expectations, the standards, the baseball," Cora’s present boss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, said the night the Astros clinched the pennant. "It's the players' job to develop the chemistry.

“And obviously good teams always say that, we want chemistry, and what comes first, the chemistry or the winning. But when you have it, you want to hold on to it as much as possible . . . We've got a good thing going because we have one common goal, we have one common standard, and that's to be your best every day."

Cora has to remain true to his best, too -- not what he thinks, and hears, and reads, people want his best to be.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.