Alex Cora fielded a question about Martin Perez to start Thursday's postgame press conference, but he didn't answer it.
He had something else he wanted to get off his chest after a demoralizing 8-1 loss to the Tigers.
"I can put it plain and simple for everybody," Cora said. "I don't think you guys have to ask too many questions today."
Cora ran through the litany of failures marking this stretch of six losses in seven games that has shaken the former first-place club. It's safe to say he's not happy.
"We didn't pitch, we didn't play good defense, we didn't hit," he said. "It wasn't a good effort today. Where we're at right now, we have to get better. That's the bottom line."
It would be easy to point to the MLB trade deadline, when management made only minor or delayed additions to the roster, and assume the Red Sox are playing poorly as a result. But in reality, their struggles predate July 30.
Comparing the first half to the second, and then the second to what we've seen so far in August, paints the picture of a club broadly trending in the wrong direction for more than a month now. And it's everywhere.
In the first half, Red Sox starters owned a .567 winning percentage and 4.47 ERA while throwing 475 innings, ranking sixth, 20th, and eighth, respectively in baseball. Since the All-Star break, however, the starters are just 4-8 (.333, 24th) with an ERA more than a full run higher at 5.50 (25th), and they've only thrown a meager 86.2 innings (29th).
Things are no better offensively. The Red Sox ranked third in runs in the first half with 464, 27th in the second half with 73, and they're dead last in August with only nine.
So when Cora sounded ticked off on Thursday, his justifications extended well beyond the last week.
"For us to pull this off, we have to play better baseball overall," he said. "It looks like right now, we're a step slower, we're not moving well and I know we're in August and it's a grind, but we have an opportunity to play in October. We put ourselves in this situation. People can doubt us or they can feel like this team can do it, but bottom line, we have to show up every day and play better."
There's little question the Red Sox are dragging and would've benefited from more immediate help on July 30 than the injured Kyle Schwarber and a pair of relievers who got lit up Thursday.
Xander Bogaerts clearly isn't himself, perhaps because of a wrist injury, and is batting just .236 with three homers since July 1. Alex Verdugo's OPS dipped below .800 on June 24 and since then he's hitting just .248 with one homer. Even J.D. Martinez, so good in April and May, has hit the skids, batting just .214 over the last three weeks with one homer.
Perhaps the Red Sox could survive the offensive power outage with better pitching, but the starters have picked a lousy time to turn fetid, with righty Garrett Richards and lefty Martin Perez prime candidates to be bumped from the rotation for Chris Sale and Tanner Houck.
"We've been working so hard to get to this point," Cora said. "I'm not saying this is acceptable because we're going to go through stretches like this, but when you look slow and it's not that you're not into it, but you have to be better at the end. . . . We have to play better if we want to pull this off."
Right now they look sluggish, and their manager has seen about enough.