BOSTON -- Friendly Fenway is turning into frustrating Fenway for the Red Sox.
After a 9-5 loss to the Rangers that included the ejections of outfielder Andrew Benintendi and manager Alex Cora in the bottom of the fifth, Boston slipped back to .500 (34-34) for the season.
“We’re not good right now,” said Cora. “We’re playing .500 baseball. Tomorrow we have Rick [Porcello] followed by David [Price]. We have to pitch better. We have to put together better at-bats. We just have to be better. I’ve been saying that all season long. We’ve been very inconsistent at what we do. Tomorrow we have to show up and try to win a ballgame. Find a way. But we absolutely have to be better than this if we want to be in the hunt.”
Most surprisingly, the Sox are 15-17 at home. That includes losing five out of six on the current homestand in which they have two games left, both against the Rangers.
“Very surprised,” Cora said. “This is a place that’s tough for opposition to come here and play. It seems like this year we haven’t been good since Day 1. We still have plenty of games at Fenway, so we expect this to turn around.”
Frustrations boiled over in the bottom of the fifth inning. Benintendi had just grounded out to shortstop and was angry about a called strike by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez on the first pitch of the at-bat.
Once in the dugout, Benintendi became incensed when he realized that first-base umpire Vic Carapazza had just ejected him as he walked off the field.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all. I’m walking back to the dugout and he throws me out walking back,” said Benintendi. “I didn’t know until I was halfway through the dugout. Yeah, I mean, I thought [the pitch] was off the plate. But I didn’t say anything to Angel. I grounded out and I was frustrated and all I said was, ‘You suck.’ Angel didn’t even know I was thrown out until I went back out there. Obviously he didn’t hear that and I’m 100 feet away. Vic throws me out walking back to the dugout and I was surprised.”
Benintendi came back onto the field to argue. Cora then came out to express his disapproval -- with both Carapazza and crew chief Hernandez. Cora was then also ejected.
“I’ve got to go out there and defend my player,” said Cora. “I didn’t agree with that. It’s not like he’s at the plate screaming at Angel whatever. That’s not the first time somebody disagrees and screams from afar at the umpire, so I just let him know and that was it.”
Hernandez, in an interview with a pool reporter, didn’t provide any details of why Carapazza threw Benintendi out.
"He violated the rules of the game,” Hernandez said. “I’m not at liberty to discuss anything until I submit the report tomorrow."
The ejections were the first two of the season for the Red Sox. Cora had just one ejection all of last season. For Benintendi, it was the first of his career.
The sequence was also a sign of how things are going for the Red Sox right now.
“You can see it,” said utility player Brock Holt. “I think guys are frustrated. We try not to be, but games like tonight, it's embarrassing. We're not playing well. We're not playing up to our capabilities. We know we're good. We haven't clicked. We haven't put it together. That's something we need to [do to] get going, because we have talent in this clubhouse and we feel like we're a good team. We just haven't been that good team yet.”
In the sixth, things got bizarre as Holt, who moved to right field from his original left field spot after Benintendi’s ejection, raced over into the right-field corner and tried to make a play on a fly ball by Hunter Pence. Holt got twisted up by the side wall as his glove went toward the seats.
As Holt got his legs tangled on top of that wall, the ball appeared to glance off his glove and then bounced far away from him, which he didn’t realize as he assumed the ball had gone into the stands for a traditional home run. In reality, it was sitting on the warning track just feet behind him.
Pence roared around for a two-run, inside-the-park homer to put the Sox in a 9-3 hole from which they wouldn’t recover.
“I got in the stands a little bit and I thought the ball went over the fence,” said Holt. “Just one of those things where I've kind of got to know where the ball is. The ball was slicing away from me, and when I ended up two rows deep in the stands, I assumed it had gone out. I had no idea it was still in play. That's kind of embarrassing on my part. Got to do a better job of paying more attention. That one was on me. I don't know if I would've been able to keep Hunter to a triple there, but I've got to go get that ball and get it in.”
After the messy game was over, the Red Sox had little choice but to hope that Wednesday would be the day they begin to resemble who they think they should be.
“Yeah, it’s not going the way we’d want it to go,” said Benintendi. “We’re not playing our best baseball. It’s been a grind so far. All you can do is come to the field every day and try to catch a hot streak and just try to do one thing at a time until everything starts clicking.”