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Red Sox: 'We need to be a lot better' 

Bats quiet as utility man Holt leaves game with left hamstring injury
@IanMBrowne
June 23, 2019

BOSTON -- The homestand before London -- against two teams below .500 -- was supposed to aid the Red Sox in their quest to finally start playing better at Fenway Park. There is still time, but the early signs haven’t been encouraging. In Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays

BOSTON -- The homestand before London -- against two teams below .500 -- was supposed to aid the Red Sox in their quest to finally start playing better at Fenway Park.

There is still time, but the early signs haven’t been encouraging.

In Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays in the rubber match of a three-game series, the Red Sox didn’t get the strong start they needed from Rick Porcello or any offensive firepower.

Box score

Manager Alex Cora’s team is now 18-19 at Fenway, compared to 24-18 on the road. The White Sox come to town Monday for the start of a three-game series. After that, Boston is off for two days before opening its two-game series against the Yankees in London on Saturday.

After reeling off an encouraging 8-1 stretch, the Sox lost two in a row to the 29-49 Blue Jays.

“Like I was saying in Minnesota, we still have to get better,” said Cora. “I know everybody was excited about that [winning streak] but as a team, there’s a lot of things we need to keep improving on and you look at this weekend and it showed.

“We stole one on Friday, we had a lead on Saturday and they stole the game. Today, we didn’t show up. It’s disappointing. We expect better things out of the group and today, I think all around, it wasn’t a good game.”

Cora later clarified that the "didn’t show up" part of his comment was not based on his team’s effort level.

“Effort-wise, we always show up, but it was just like the game, all around, they were better than us today,” said Cora.

Boston’s lack of winning at Fenway is puzzling to say the least.

“There’s nothing specific about our game that jumps out,” Cora said. “It’s just that we’ve been inconsistent and we need to be a lot better. This is a place -- we have to take advantage of it and we’re not doing that."

In addition to losing the game, the 42-37 Sox also lost invaluable utility player Brock Holt due to tightness in his left hamstring.

Holt sustained the injury while attempting to score from second on a single to left by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the second inning.

Both as he was rounding third, and after he was thrown out by several feet, Holt grabbed his left hamstring. Holt did go back out to third base for the third inning, but was replaced by Eduardo Nunez at the start of the fourth inning.

“It feels better, just have a little tightness, kind of felt a little grab there trying to score,” said Holt. "It wasn’t anything where I was worried about it, just one of those things, just kind of noticed it and it tightened up. Got treatment when I came back in and feeling a little bit better now.”

It was an aggressive send by third base coach Andy Barkett, and perhaps that’s understandable considering the struggles the Red Sox have had of late with runners in scoring position -- including a 1-for-7 in that category on Sunday.

“We’re an aggressive team, so, I’m OK with it,” said Cora.

On a day the bats didn’t generate much of anything against Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman -- who threw six scoreless innings -- Porcello kept it a 2-0 game through five.

But the Blue Jays got three runs in the sixth.

“We definitely had a chance. Game was relatively under control going into the sixth inning and I’ve got to be better,” Porcello said. “I walked two guys. Gave up a big double to [Freddy] Galvis and put ourselves in a tough hole. Especially with Stroman throwing the ball so well.

"Runs and hits were hard to come by. Can’t give up extra tack-on runs, and then ended up blowing up. It wasn’t just one or two, they ended up putting up three. So I’ve got to be better -- can’t walk two guys, can’t give up the hits that I did and that’s it.”

Adding to Porcello’s frustration is that one of the three runs scored on a balk.

“It was entirely my fault,” Porcello said. “I saw [Christian Vazquez's] hands go up and kind of stepped off the mound with the wrong foot. I thought time was out and time hadn’t been given. I just saw Vazqy’s hands go up and we didn’t have time then, so it was another inexcusable error on my part letting a run get across.”

With Sunday’s disappointing performance in the rearview mirror, the Red Sox are eight games behind the Yankees in the American League East with 83 games left.

Can the Red Sox overcome a deficit that big considering the way things have gone for them so far this season?

“I think so, but that’s how far we are [back] right now,” Cora said. “That team [the Yankees] is playing great, we’re close to the [Rays], but far from being where we’re supposed to be.”

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