Red Sox

Poor execution leads to Red Sox loss in series finale

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Poor execution leads to Red Sox loss in series finale

NEW YORK -- In general, the Red Sox have played a better brand of baseball in recent weeks, spurred, perhaps, by the youthful energy of a number of players with plenty to prove.

But twice Sunday, they slipped and it helped cost them the final game of their series with the New York Mets. 

In the seventh inning, reliever Heath Hembree came into a tie game with Mets infielder Daniel Murphy on first. Murphy had just one stolen base all season, and maybe for that reason, Hembree didn't pay him much attention.

Murphy, however, took advantage of the Red Sox' indifference and swiped second base without a throw. After Michael Cuddyer followed with a single to left, Murphy scored from second, which proved to be the winning run.

“I think that was probably one of the key plays in the game,” acknowledged Torey Lovullo. "It ended up being the go-ahead run. We just didn't control the running game there. We work very hard at it. It's part of our game that we take pride in. Unfortunately, we didn't do it at that time.”

Lovullo said the lack of attention was probably due to a combination of factors, but they “just didn’t execute.”

Hembree told the Providence Journal: "I wasn’t expecting it. (Murphy) just snuck up on us."

That wasn't the only failing.

In the ninth inning, with Rusney Castillo on second, Blake Swihart on first, and no outs, the Red Sox wanted Alejandro De Aza to bunt the runners over. That would have placed the tying run at third and the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

But De Aza missed a couple of attempts to get a bunt down successfully and ended up striking out, changing the complexion of the inning.

"He works hard at it,” said Lovullo of De Aza's ability to bunt. "He's the type of guy that's understanding of his type of (role). He needs to execute those types of situations. I'm a little bit surprised. But if it comes up again, I wouldn't be afraid to ask him to do the same thing because he'll get the job done.”

Here's the rule that had Alex Cora hopping mad -- until he realized the umpires hadn't gotten it wrong after all

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File photo

Here's the rule that had Alex Cora hopping mad -- until he realized the umpires hadn't gotten it wrong after all

Alex Cora needed to be separated from home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak by coaches after Tuesday night/Wednesday morning's marathon 17-inning loss to the Twins, but it only took one look at the replay for the manager to admit he was wrong.

Cora and other members of the Red Sox, most notably right-hander Rick Porcello, were incensed after Eddie Rosario fouled off a bunt attempt with one out in the 17th. Catcher Sandy Leon immediately pointed at the batter's suggesting Rosario had stepped out before making contact, which would have been an automatic out.

Cora asked Rehak to consult with the rest of the crew and third base umpire Mark Wegner agreed that no violation had occurred. Cora complained bitterly before Rosario doubled the winning run to third. Two batters later, the Twins prevailed on Max Kepler's walk-off single.

Only after the game did Cora realize that Rosario, who had slid to the front of the box while awkwardly trying to bunt against the shift, didn't actually do anything illegal.

"I want to apologize to the umpires," Cora told reporters in Minnesota. "Obviously, emotions take over. I look at the replay, and Eddie wasn't off the batter's box. They did an outstanding job for how long (the game) was. Just one of those, it's tough to swallow. You see it and the emotions take over, but it was out of character. That was my fault."

Rule 6.06 (a) states that a batter is out for illegal action if, "he hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter's box." Upon video review, the left-handed Rosario's front foot clearly does not leave the box until after the ball leaves his bat. At the moment of contact, his heel is on the line.

So, Cora did the right thing and apologized.

"I look on the video and he wasn't," Cora told reporters. "They were right and I was wrong."

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Red Sox lose marathon 17-inning game to Twins, so pull up a chair, because there's a lot to dissect

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Red Sox lose marathon 17-inning game to Twins, so pull up a chair, because there's a lot to dissect

While you were sleeping, the Red Sox and Twins played one hell of a baseball game on Tuesday night.

You want a little bit of everything? We've got a little bit of everything.

Minnesota prevailed 4-3 in 17 innings after 5 hours and 45 minutes in the longest game in both innings and time in the nine-year history of Target Field in Minneapolis and the Red Sox' longest since their epic, 18-inning loss to the Dodgers in the World Series. This finish did not lack for controversy. Red Sox manager Alex Cora and right-hander Rick Porcello screamed at the umpiring crew over a foul bunt by Eddie Rosario in the final frame when it looked like he made contact while stepping out of the batter's box, though Cora later apologized.

The Twins walked it off on Max Kepler's single into the right-field corner. But between Miguel Pineda's first pitch at 8:10 p.m. and Brian Johnson's last just moments before 2 a.m., a week's worth of action occurred.

"There was a lot of stuff weird in this game," Cora told reporters, later adding, "we'll build from this. I know that for a fact."

Let's dive in!

  • So about that Rosario bunt. Cora and catcher Sandy Leon believed he had made contact after leaving the box, but replays showed that not to be the case, which Cora acknowledged in his postgame apology. It's easy to understand why the Red Sox wanted the out, because Rosario then doubled to right to put runners at second and third with one out. 

  • David Price lasted only five innings and 73 pitches, departing in a 1-1 tie. The Red Sox announced that his absence had nothing to do with anything physical, but it still makes you wonder. Price was obviously worlds better than his last start, when he recorded only four outs vs. the Rangers, but he lacked his best stuff, recording just two strikeouts. Cora told reporters that the plan had been to limit Price's innings from the start. 

  • It's hard to say which slugger had the rougher night -- J.D. Martinez or Miguel Sano. The Red Sox DH went 0 for 8 for the first time in his career and struck out five times, including in the 17th with no outs and the go-ahead run on first. The Twins third baseman went 0 for 7 with five punchouts of his own and stranded five baserunners.

  • The Red Sox stayed in the game with some outstanding defense. Catcher Christian Vazquez picked off Twins counterpart Mitch Garver at third base for the first out of the sixth, snuffing the first-and-third rally. Center fielder Jackie Bradley added to his legend with an absurd over-the-shoulder catch while leaping into the center field wall like Spiderman to rob Jorge Polanco of possibly three bases in the eighth. First baseman Michael Chavis snared a C.J. Cron line drive and doubled off Eddie Rosario following a leadoff double in the 15th. Xander Bogaerts made a tremendous throw from deep in the hole. Mookie Betts briefly stranded the eventual winning run at third with a perfect relay. The defense gave the Red Sox every opportunity to win.

  • The bats? Another story. The Red Sox went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and worked just two walks. They recorded 17 hits, but stranded 14 runners. Every regular except Betts and Chavis recorded at least two hits; unfortunately, almost none of them were timely.

  • The beleaguered bullpen delivered a no-name tour de force. The Red Sox used nine pitchers, including fifth starter Brian Johnson, who entered in the 17th when Hector Velazquez couldn't continue after a recurrence of the back injury that had disabled him since May 29. The Red Sox received scoreless outings from Mike Shawaryn, Matt Barnes, Josh Taylor, and Colten Brewer.

  • The box score will show four one-run innings with three strikeouts for Velazquez. The box score does not tell the story. The Twins hit rockets right at defenders. Per Baseball Savant, the expected batting average on five of his outs were .520, .430, .620, .480, .510. That might've had something to do with the fact that Velazquez started grabbing his back midway through the outing. He may end up back on the IL.

  • Defending MVP Mookie Betts delivered one of his first legitimately dramatic hits of the season, a solo homer in the 13th. Unfortunately, Kepler matched him with a solo blast of his own in the bottom of the frame.

  • Months after losing an 18-inning World Series marathon before rebounding to sweep the next two games and claim a championship, the Red Sox hope to be similarly inspired before Wednesday's finale. Cora praised the energy in the dugout and the fact that everyone was engaged.

 

The teams have about 18 hours to recover before first pitch in Wednesday's finale.

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