BOSTON -- Ideally, the revival of the Red Sox’s offense would have come in a win on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Instead, Boston was forced to settle for a near-miss comeback in a 9-8 loss to the Reds to open a seven-game homestand.
Here are some things to unpack from a disjointed defeat.
Bello’s command way off
Nobody doubts the talent of Red Sox righty Brayan Bello, who has a nasty arsenal of pitches.
Over his past six starts, Bello has a 2.53 ERA. But the 24-year-old didn’t command enough to pitch deep into the game, throwing 97 pitches (61 strikes) over four innings. He at least minimized the damage, including throwing a 33-pitch first inning without allowing a run. Bello left with his team down, 1-0.
But that left the bullpen with five innings to carry. And when the middle-relief crew had some struggles, it made Bello’s abbreviated start all the more costly.
“No command,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Bello. “A lot of pitches in four innings. Obviously, he got out of a man on third with no outs jam and did a good job there. But a lot of pitches. He was inefficient. He was behind in the count. Slider wasn’t great. They fouled off a lot of pitches and put us in a bad spot.”
What did Bello think the issue was?
“One of the things I noticed in the first inning was my mechanics were slow,” Bello said. “And so that was part of the command issues, and that’s something I tried to fix in the third and the fourth, but it was already too late and I had too many pitches in the first inning.”
Offense awakens late
During the previous nine-game road trip out West, the Sox hit .235 and scored 25 runs (an average of 2.78 per game).
It looked like it was carrying over even as they returned to familiar Fenway. The Sox were down 8-0 as they came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, and suddenly the hits started to come.
In fact, they generated a three-run rally with two outs and nobody on base in that seventh. Rafael Devers had the third run-scoring hit of the inning, a single for his 500th career RBI.
This was significant because Devers, Boston’s best hitter, has struggled of late and isn’t having the type of season you’d expect. In a wild bottom of the ninth, in which the Sox scored five times, Devers ripped another RBI single.
“The past few weeks haven’t been very consistent,” Devers said. “But I need to make adjustments and that's what I've been trying to do. Today was a good sign.”
Devers came to the ballpark early on Tuesday to get some extra swings and make some adjustments.
“Of course, those two hits boosted my confidence, and coming in here early today to get some swings in, it’s very good,” Devers said. “Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Shortstop Kiké Hernández made two errors (he now has 11 on the season), including a costly one in the sixth when his double-play feed to second missed the mark. Instead of getting two outs on the play, Boston got none, and the Reds added to their lead.
In the seventh inning, lefty reliever Joely Rodríguez allowed five runs on two hits and three walks, including one with the bases loaded.
“Joely walked three guys. If you do that at this level, you’re going to pay the price,” Cora said. ”I think at one point, the leadoff hitter had four at-bats in six innings. There was a lot of traffic. In that [previous] inning, we didn’t turn a double play with [Justin] Garza pitching. We didn’t play good defense there. With Joely, he was all over the place, walked three guys, and they did what they’re supposed to do.”
And in the eighth, Triston Casas lined out to right and Masataka Yoshida lost track of the number of outs, getting doubled off to end the inning. Considering the one-run margin of defeat, the Red Sox did a few things to beat themselves.
“We started making adjustments a little bit too late and the game got fast on us,” Devers said.