Red Sox skipper stands by confusing decisions in big loss
All day today while I was at work all I could think about was that loss last night. Something about it just didn’t sit well with me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. We’ve seen the Red Sox get blown out, we’ve seen them blow games late, but what we saw last night felt different. I’ve been trying to figure out where the blame should be placed and one area was very glaring to me when I really thought about it.
I’ll address the elephant in the room just so we can get it out of the way and move on. Tanner Houck was clearly not in Toronto as his vaccination status stopped him from entering the country. We knew this was going to be the case and unfortunately, it looks like it’ll be the case when Boston heads back up north in September.
In the scenario we found the Red Sox in last night I would’ve loved for Tanner to be an option but he wasn’t. I’ve more than pitched for him to be our closer and believe he has the capability to be a high-end reliever, but we also have to be real with ourselves. There was no guarantee that he would’ve come in and locked down that ninth inning without breaking a sweat.
I feel he would’ve had a better chance, but we also have to be honest, he wasn’t exactly Mariano Rivera in Cleveland and this Jays lineup is far more dangerous. Still, we knew he wasn’t going to be available and a new game plan needed to be drawn up in order to try and cover that hole in the bullpen. And I’m sorry, but thinking Tyler Danish and Hansel Robles were the answer, is baffling.
Considering how lights-out he’s been I was expecting John Schreiber to be closing things down in The Six but we didn’t see that, and it’s the first confusing step in Cora’s plan for last night. Seriously, Schreiber has been Boston’s best reliever not named Garrett Whitlock. The guy has a 0.76 ERA through 23.2 innings with a 0.718 WHIP and a 5.6 K/BB. We’ve seen him in high leverage situations, we’ve seen him against some nasty hitters, but for some reason, we saw him last night in the seventh inning.
I don’t quite understand this move from Cora, especially with the game situation at hand. The seventh is when we should’ve seen Robles or Danish not at the end of the game. I just can’t grasp using our best reliever when it wasn’t at the most opportune time for his abilities. AC was questioned about his decisions last night and he gave what could be described as a bit of a snippy response.
"“That’s the way I saw it. That’s the way I managed the game,” Cora said. “I’m the manager here and I decided to go with him for two innings.”"
Normally it feels like Cora doesn’t let the criticisms get to him and he stays relatively unwavering but last night really got to the Red Sox skipper. I can understand he’s probably annoyed with the questions about Houck in regards to the vaccine but that’s also the job he signed up for. We all knew the restrictions going into the season and he knew that Tanner hadn’t gotten vaccinated and likely wouldn’t when he put him in his current role.
Decisions have consequences, and for Cora, that means a mountain of questions and possibly a mountain of losses. I’m sure we would all react the way he did after that kind of loss and knowing what questions would be asked of him, but that’s his job and as the manager of the Red Sox he has to take it. But even beyond Houck, the early usage of Schreiber, and the confusing pairing of Danish and Robles, where was Matt Strahm?
Strahm is a guy that has more than earned my trust over the course of the first half of this season and he’s proven himself in big innings. He’s gotten into and out of jams while also handling heavy lineups when the pressure is on. Sure, being a lefty didn’t lend itself to this Jays lineup but I sure as hell would’ve gambled on him more than what we saw last night. He’s someone with the experience and track record that Cora should’ve used him despite what the analytics said.
"“Every time we lose, it’s disappointing,” Cora said. “We tried to get 27 outs with the righties at the end and it didn’t happen.”"
Last night’s loss could’ve been avoided had the bullpen been structured in a more logical way. Why low leverage guys were used in a high leverage situation and vice versa I’ll never understand. Why Matt Strahm was left on the bench when he could’ve closed things down is a head-scratcher. Tonight is another night and luckily it’s the last time we have to deal with this Houck issue until September. And who knows, with the Trade Deadline looming it may not even be an issue by that time.