Another loss leaves Red Sox Nation curious about the team’s decisions

DETROIT, MI - JULY 6: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox, right, and Marco Hernandez #40 of the Boston Red Sox watch from the dugout during the sixth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 6, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 6: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox, right, and Marco Hernandez #40 of the Boston Red Sox watch from the dugout during the sixth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on July 6, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox were riding high after this past weekend but a being swept by the Phillies has fans scratching their heads.

I have no true words to describe how I feel after the Red Sox got swept by the Phillies. I simply can’t explain why some of the moves made by Alex Cora were done. At this point in the season, we’d all hoped that “Cora Magic” would find its way back to Fenway Park but sadly it’s nowhere to be found. With a 7.0 game deficit off of the second wild-card spot and just 34 games left on the schedule, time is nearly out.

This past weekend the Red Sox flexed their muscle as well as their grit as they swept the Orioles and positioned themselves to challenge for that second wild-card spot. Two games later and it feels like that brass ring is firmly out of reach. If Boston wants any shot at making the postseason they’re going to need some help and it doesn’t look like Tampa or Oakland feel like going on a losing streak anytime soon.

All of the goodwill that was made up during the Orioles series was just thrown right in the trash with the two games against the Phillies. Boston could’ve won both games and had more than enough chances with men on base.

Hell, I lost count of how many times they had runners in scoring position and failed to get them across the plate. And that’s the story of this season versus the juggernaut that was last year’s World Series squad.

If you look at the numbers this season has been a success offensively as this year’s team actually has performed better at the plate, except in one category. In 2018, the Red Sox posted a dominant .268/.339/.453/.792 slash line while scoring 876 runs on 829 RBI.

This year, on the other hand, Boston has a .276/.346/.480/.826 line, but the issue is they’ve only scored 739 runs on 703 RBI. That’s the story of success versus what feels like missing out on the postseason.

We saw the difference in those metrics on full display in this last series and it left many in Red Sox Nation scratching their heads. Last year it felt like every base was successfully stolen, sac bunts were plentiful and it rained RBI.

In the two games against Philadelphia Boston left 12 runners on base, many of which were in scoring position. They lost the series by an overall score of 8-4, something that shouldn’t have happened.

We did see a great sac bunt by Christian Vazquez that would get Andrew Benintendi and Sam Travis into scoring position but the Sox couldn’t capitalize. So in a moment when calling for the bunt was a success the follow-up was an absolute failure.

Then late in the game, Cora decided to pinch-hit Chris Owings for Marco Hernandez which was just mind-boggling. Speaking of Hernandez, why the hell was he trying to steal with J.T. Realmuto behind the plate? He’s literally THE BEST catcher when tossing out runners with a 47% CS%, which breaks down to 35 out of 40. Great idea there fellas.

Owings has been a flop since his call-up to the active roster and it was clear that Cora was thinking simply of the matchup against the pitcher. Why he wouldn’t just leave in Hernandez or call on Brock Holt from the bench is something we may never know.

And despite his defense and a surprising number of homers lately, why wasn’t Jackie Bradley Jr. pinch-hit for? He can create such magic but more often than not he swings at some of the ugliest pitches ever recorded on film.

Alex Cora didn’t mince any words when he spoke to the media after the loss last night, but we’re at the point where the words don’t carry any weight.

"“It wasn’t a great night, the funny thing is we had a chance to win the game,” manager Alex Cora said. “We can’t have nights like that as a team, it’s one of those that started off good and we left the bases loaded and the game changed right away. They had the double, I think it was (Cesar) Hernandez, and the wild pitch, the throw to third, it just kept going.”"

The thing is it’s not funny, and I know that’s simply a phrase, but it isn’t. The Red Sox are the reigning world champions and have shown that their offense is competent enough to do this.

We’ve hit the point in the season where it may be time to shake things up. Give some guys an extra day off, make a call-up or two, shuffle the order. Something needs to be done to try and salvage this final 34 games and get to the postseason.

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"“It seems like we have expanded the zone a little bit,” he said. “We usually hunt pitches in the middle of the zone and when they’re there, we do damage with it and stay way from the edges. It seems like in the last 15 days we’re doing that.”"

Boston is at the point where every game is a must-win and giving away these close games just can’t happen anymore. They need to get back to what got them to the dance last year and delivered them a Commissioner’s Trophy.

Using bunts and sacrifices to get runners over and people across the plate will be the biggest step towards winning. Not every at-bat needs to be a moon bomb to Cambridge. Just focus on getting the ball in play to get into the best advantage to win.

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More often than not since Opening Day, it feels like Red Sox Nation has been left wondering what in the hell this team is doing. The decision making from the front office to the clubhouse just seems off-kilter compared to what we saw last season. The pieces are all on the board but in a turn of fortunes, it feels like Alex Cora is now playing checkers instead of chess.