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Cora seeking improvement from offense

@IanMBrowne
June 2, 2019

NEW YORK -- Considering that the Red Sox entered Sunday action ranked sixth in the Majors in runs and 16th in ERA, you might be surprised to hear that manager Alex Cora thinks the offense is what the team needs to improve most to get out of its current lull.

NEW YORK -- Considering that the Red Sox entered Sunday action ranked sixth in the Majors in runs and 16th in ERA, you might be surprised to hear that manager Alex Cora thinks the offense is what the team needs to improve most to get out of its current lull.

Cora points to two things that the numbers might not show regarding the lineup: Lack of consistency and subpar execution when it comes to situational hitting.

Nobody expected the defending World Series champions to be a .500 team and 9 1/2 games back in the American League East as they took the field on June 2.

"Obviously we're not happy where we're at," said Cora. "I thought we were going to be more consistent, but we've got plenty of time to get this going. That's the most important thing. Offensively it has been up and down, although it doesn't look that way. Pitching-wise, we're closer to who we are, although we don't have the results.

"Baserunning, obviously, we talk about it, the last 10 or 12 days have been sloppy. We need to correct that. But I think offensively, although people don't see it that way, that's the part that we need to get better. We've got to put at-bats together and be that offense that we know what we can do. Coming into the season, there were two strong points everybody talked about -- the rotation and the offense. The rotation struggled early, and I think the offense hasn't been consistent as a group the whole season."

By no means was Cora pointing fingers at any one hitter. He is looking for more from the entire group.

"You've got to forget about who's ahead of you and what's going on around the division and start taking care of business," said Cora. "The first step is to play better baseball, be consistent. I think we haven't been consistent throughout the season. The record speaks for itself. We've just got to keep improving and get into that hot streak."

Moreland is better

First baseman Mitch Moreland has felt some improvement with the low back strain that landed him on the injured list earlier this week. The move is retroactive to May 26, meaning Moreland is eligible to return Wednesday.

"Mitch is doing better," said Cora. "Actually he was going to hit off the tee today [in Boston]. I'm going to get some more [info] tomorrow. [Athletic trainer] Brad [Pearson] is over there with everything that's going on with the Draft. But so far there's some improvement."

Sale Wednesday; Thursday TBD

Following an off-day Monday, Cora had some options for how to maneuver his rotation in the upcoming series in Kansas City. Eduardo Rodriguez had already been slated to pitch Game 1 on Tuesday. Cora announced Sunday that ace Chris Sale will get the ball Wednesday. Thursday's finale is still up in the air.

Rick Porcello could make that turn on regular rest, but Cora might insert a fifth starter in that spot instead. Prospect Michael Shawaryn is a candidate. So, too, is Ryan Weber, who has bounced back and forth between the rotation and bullpen. Another factor to consider is that the Red Sox have a day-night doubleheader against the Rays on Saturday.

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