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Sox go 1-for-13 with RISP to end winning streak

@IanMBrowne
June 19, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox played for nearly six hours trying to keep their longest winning streak of the season going, but they ultimately fell, 4-3, in a 17-inning heartbreaker to the Twins at Target Field that had a little bit of everything. The one thing it didn't have enough

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox played for nearly six hours trying to keep their longest winning streak of the season going, but they ultimately fell, 4-3, in a 17-inning heartbreaker to the Twins at Target Field that had a little bit of everything.

The one thing it didn't have enough of for Boston? Hits with runners in scoring position.

Situational hitting was the only thing that prevented the Red Sox from pushing their winning streak to seven games.

Box score

In the top of the 17th, Andrew Benintendi led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on catcher Mitch Garver's error. With nobody out, he was 90 feet from scoring the go-ahead run.

But J.D. Martinez (0-for-8) struck out for the fifth time on the night. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts both grounded out, and just like that, the threat was over.

"Yeah, I mean, I think with our lineup, the chances of the guy not getting in is pretty low," said Benintendi. "I think recently we've been struggling with runners in scoring position, so it is what it is. If you could go up there and hit a fly ball every time, you would. But those pitchers are good and they made good pitches. Just move on."

For the night, the Red Sox were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position while leaving 14 men on base.

"We had traffic all over the place," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I don't know how many innings we had the leadoff hitter on, or we had second and third no outs, one out and we just didn't do the job. We did everything today; hit home runs, bunts, steals, everything. We pushed the envelope, but at the end, we didn't score enough runs."

By the time it was finally ended on Max Kepler's walk-off single to right, there were several other things to digest.

Why take Price out?

On a night Cora wound up using eight relievers, it was fair to wonder why he had such a quick hook with starter David Price, who came out after five innings and 73 pitches. After lasting just 1 1/3 innings and giving up six runs in his last start, Price held the Twins to four hits and a run.

"David, he was short the other day and today was one of those we felt like I was going to take care of him," said Cora. "He threw the ball well, but as you guys know, he's a guy we really need to take care of. He did an outstanding job, and the guys who came in after him did an outstanding job. We just didn't finish it."

Reading between the lines, Price might be battling something physically at this point in the season.

"It was tough. I wanted to be able to give us more. That's what every other starter's been able to do. That was tough today," said Price. "It was a collective decision. It wasn't on Alex. It wasn't on him."

Whatever the issue might be, Price made it sound like nothing major.

"I'm feeling all right," Price said. "Just going through the season. That's part of it and I expect to be back out there in five or six days."

Why was Cora so mad in the 17th?

With a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the 17th, Eddie Rosario tried to lay down a bunt for the Twins. He fouled it off and Cora was hot at the umpires, thinking that Rosario was out of the batter's box when he bunted. As it turns out, the Red Sox would have been better off if Rosario had successfully bunted. He wound up belting a double that pushed the eventual winning run all the way to third.

Cora admitted after the game he was wrong.

"I want to apologize to the umpires," Cora said. "Obviously emotions take over. When you look at the replay, Eddie wasn't out of the batter's box. They did an outstanding job for how long it was. It's one of those that's tough to swallow. You see it and the emotions take over, but that was out of character, so that was my fault."

Defensive mastery

The Red Sox put on a clinic defensively. Otherwise, the game likely would have never gone 17 innings.

With runners at the corners and nobody out in the sixth, Mitch Garver strayed too far off third and Christian Vazquez made a snap throw to nail him.

In the bottom of the seventh, Jorge Polanco ripped one to deep center that seemed to have double written all over it. But Jackie Bradley Jr. raced back, jumped against the wall and made his latest sensational catch with the ball dangling in the palm of his glove.

"Yeah, just kind of went back in the gap," said Bradley. "Figured if I'm going to go that far, I might as well go after it. Jumped up there, tried to get my little inner-Bo Jackson in and kind of hang on the wall a little bit."

In the 15th, after Rosario led off with a double, C.J. Cron rocketed a hot shot to first. Michael Chavis snared it and deftly waited for Bogaerts to get to the bag, and then shoveled it to him to double off Rosario.

"It was a great baseball game," said Cora.

No letdown

Anyone who thinks the Red Sox will suffer a letdown after losing such a gut-wrenching game must not have watched the World Series last year. Remember when Boston lost to the Dodgers in a 17-inning thriller in Game 3, and then stormed back from a four-run deficit to win Game 4?

"We've been in this situation before -- extra-inning games, take something positive out of this. We'll be fine," said Cora. "It's 1:15 right now. But you watch, you see how we compete, you see the dugout and the vibe and all that. It's something that we'll build from this. I know that for a fact. Come here in a few hours, finish the job and enjoy [a day off on] Thursday."

Bradley echoed Cora's sentiments.

"We've got a great group of guys," said Bradley. "We look at all the positives that happened tonight. Our pitchers pitched their tails off. Hitters grinded. It was a well-fought game from both sides and unfortunately we weren't able to come out with the victory, and we're excited to get back out there tomorrow and play a good ballgame."

By tomorrow, Bradley actually meant today.

"Good point," said the center fielder.

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