Cora after latest Fenway loss: ‘Disappointing’

June 1st, 2022

BOSTON -- The Red Sox on Tuesday night were one out away from being shut out in consecutive games at home for the first time since Aug. 27-28, 2002. 

While an RBI single by Alex Verdugo that ticked off the glove of Joey Votto spared them that indignity, it didn’t change the momentum of what has been a frustrating homestand and a disappointing start to the season at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox fell, 2-1, to the 17-31 Reds just a day after they were stymied, 10-0, by the 21-30 Orioles

Through the first two calendar months of the season, Boston is 12-14 at home and 11-13 on the road.

Considering that Boston had come home with some momentum after reeling off its fourth consecutive series victory in Chicago against the White Sox, these last few days have been tough to stomach for a 23-27 club that has high aspirations this season.

With this being a seven-game homestand against two last-place teams, the Red Sox hoped to inch closer to .500, not to mention the clubs they are chasing for the American League Wild Card spots.

The best that manager Alex Cora’s team can do is a 3-4 homestand with a win in the finale against the Reds on Wednesday night.

“Disappointing,” said Cora. “We still have one more game, but we have to be better at home. For us to make it to where we want to go, we have to be better here. That’s the bottom line. Teams that make it to October, they dominate at home and quote-unquote survive on the road. But at home, you have to be better. We haven’t done a good job.” 

If you’re looking for a sign that this can turn around, look no further than 2021, when the Sox started 13-13 at home.

The difference, of course, was that Fenway was at 25 percent capacity through that time period last season due to COVID restrictions and once the place got packed again, the team started to take off at home, ultimately finishing 49-32. 

“You can control the way you play and dominate,” said Cora. “It’s a mindset. You have to get these people going, because when it’s loud, the [opposition feels] the pressure. But if we don’t do our jobs here, we don’t get leads or we’re not doing what we usually do here, it’s very quiet. It’s a very uncomfortable place to play here at Fenway as an opponent when this place is loud.”

On the previous homestand, the Sox brought the noise with their bats and it carried over to the crowd, as the club went 6-1. 

That has made this step back the last few days more frustrating for the Sox. 

Boston had mustered just one hit going into the ninth inning on Tuesday and finished with four hits for the second straight game. 

“It’s not many games you’re going to win if you have one hit going into the ninth. It’s just the way it is,” said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Despite that futility, the Red Sox were in the game all night, and both runs they gave up were unearned. This, due to costly throwing miscues by Rafael Devers in the sixth and Bogaerts in the ninth.

“That was bad. That was a bad one,” said Bogaerts. “That was probably one of my worst games I’ve had. Especially that ninth inning, I’ve got to make a better throw than that. It was bad timing for me to make a mistake like that.”

Devers nearly avenged his error with a rocket double off the Monster in the bottom of the ninth that set up runners at second and third with nobody out.

After J.D. Martinez struck out for the first out, Bogaerts had a chance to redeem himself like Devers, but he hit a harmless flyout to center field against Reds reliever Tony Santillan.

“When you miss your pitches in this league, it’s not right,” said Bogaerts. “That last at-bat, you could say they were all good pitches to hit. It’s just a bad night to be off.”

Unfortunately, off-nights have been too frequent for the Red Sox at home. They know that it must change in short order. Otherwise, Fenway Park could be silent in October.

“We need to play better baseball here,” said Devers. “We need to improve that. That’s a must.”