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Chavis on late strikeout: 'I just messed up'

@IanMBrowne
April 27, 2019

BOSTON -- On the one-week anniversary of his first Major League at-bat, a booming double that helped lead to a game-winning rally for the Red Sox, Michael Chavis had a chance to be the hero against the very same pitcher in Rays reliever José Alvarado. This time, the result was

BOSTON -- On the one-week anniversary of his first Major League at-bat, a booming double that helped lead to a game-winning rally for the Red Sox, Michael Chavis had a chance to be the hero against the very same pitcher in Rays reliever José Alvarado.

This time, the result was a strikeout in a tough, 2-1 loss at home for the Red Sox that dropped them 6 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East.

Chavis easily could have tipped the proverbial cap after the game, and nobody would have batted an eyelash. Instead, he did something impressive for a 23-year-old with seven Major League games under his belt and took complete accountability.

With runners at the corners, one out in the bottom of the eighth and the Red Sox down by a run, Chavis knew that his only job was to get the ball in the air and get at least the tying run home, if not more.

“I just messed up, honestly,” said Chavis. “I should have hit the first-pitch fastball, especially in that situation. Bases were loaded, one out, I’ve got to at least hit a popup in the outfield so we can score that run and tie the ballgame up. I got a hittable pitch on the first pitch and definitely should have hit that.”

The heater arrived at 98.3 mph, about belt-high and on the outer quadrant of the strike zone. Chavis didn’t offer at it.

The pitch that followed was a cutter in the dirt for ball one. And then?

“He made a good pitch with the slider and that made it 1-2,” Chavis said. “The 1-2 slider, I just swung over it. I thought I put a good swing on it, and just swung over it. But even on that pitch, I should have done a better job of just at least putting it in play and getting a popup so I could get at least one run in.”

Boston’s most promising rally of an otherwise quiet day fizzled after that. Steve Pearce walked to load the bases, but Jackie Bradley Jr. swung through a 3-2 cutter that was low to end the inning.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora didn’t think it was fair to pin the lost opportunity on Chavis, Boston’s No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

“I mean that guy is one of the best closers in the big leagues, so you take your chances,” said Cora. “He’s what, [0-for-2] with [two walks]? [Alvarado] won his battle today. He made his pitches and got him out. That’s how it works at this level.”

However, Chavis earned a reputation through high school and the Minor Leagues as someone who could always drive in the big run. And just because he’s at the highest level now, he’s not going to make excuses for himself when he doesn’t come through.

“I don’t think I’m tougher [on myself] than I should be,” Chavis said. “I think it’s a situation where the job should get done and it’s something that I’ve done in the past without a problem and it’s something I take pride in. A big part of my game is RBIs and I need to get that one for sure. That’s pretty much it.”

Some momentum lost, but rotation clicking

Just when the Red Sox appeared to have found their groove offensively, they ran into the nasty offerings of starter Charlie Morton on Saturday afternoon, and he silenced their bats.

Just when the Red Sox looked like they were going to make a comeback against Tampa Bay’s bullpen thanks to Mookie Betts' rocket homer to lead off the eighth, Alvarado silenced their bats. Emilio Pagán did the same in the ninth. Morton was masterful, allowing two hits over six shutout innings.

David Price did his job for the Red Sox, allowing just two runs over six innings and shaking off Yandy Díaz's leadoff homer.

The rotation that was such a problem earlier in the season is settling in. The Sox have allowed four runs or fewer in the last four games, and the rotation’s ERA is 3.27 in the last 11 games. Perhaps even more impressively, Boston starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 13 of the last 14 games.

“The first couple of weeks were tough as a group,” said Price. “We definitely are throwing the ball better our last couple of turns through the rotation. So that’s a good sign. It takes a lot of pressure off our offense. We’ll get back to clicking on all cylinders like we need to do.”

As far as Price is concerned, it’s a matter of when and not if the Boston lineup goes on a prolonged hot streak.

“Absolutely,” said Price. “Our offense is too good. They’ve carried me for three years since I’ve been here. They’ll get back to it.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.