Alex Cora calling out offense might've woken up Red Sox in Cardinals series finale

Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox
Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox had a rough offensive stretch in May. They looked far removed from the team that dropped 17 runs on the Chicago Cubs on April 29 — Boston averaged fewer than four runs per game from May 1-18.

But the Red Sox broke out of their slump in a big way and scored double-digit runs on the St. Louis Cardinals on May 19. A few homers contributed to the high score, but Boston made more contact than usual, and the bats delivered in the right moments.

The offensive boost may have come from a pep talk from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. One of Boston's two losses against the Cardinals is shouldered mostly by Justin Slaten after the hurler gave up four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Saturday, but the Sox's two runs didn't give him much room to breathe.

“At the end of the day, we’ve gotta score runs,” Cora said to reporters postgame. “We can’t play these games all the time, right? Tight games all the way. We put pressure on the bullpen. At one point, we have to start producing runs.”

Alex Cora called out the Red Sox's offense for slumping and it turned around the next day

Players also took accountability for the Sox's recent struggles. Boston has wasted dozens of quality outings by its starters due to low offensive production. Kutter Crawford has made an early case for American League Cy Young award consideration, but the Red Sox are just 3-7 in games he's started.

“I don’t think there’s any excuse for wasting Kutter’s starts. He’s got a sub-2.50 [ERA] the whole year. It’s all on us." Rob Refsnyder said. "We just need to do better. All of our starters are doing great and it just sucks. We’re trying hard and the results aren’t there. There’s no one to blame but ourselves.”

On May 19, the Red Sox logged a huge offensive afternoon for the first time since their nine-run rout of the Twins on May 5. Every Sox hitter besides Ceddanne Rafaela and Vaughn Grissom recorded at least one hit and Rafael Devers extended his home run streak to five games. The third baseman was the only one making major contributions in Boston's series against the Rays and early in the series vs the Cards. On May 19, Devers and the starters finally got offensive support.

Connor Wong's early-season dominance continued and he went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Dominic Smith and Garrett Cooper are breaking out of their respective slumps — Smith collected a hit and three RBI and Cooper logged two hits and two RBI. Even David Hamilton showed up at the plate recently, and he knocked a double and a line-drive bullet of a home run in the final two games of the St. Louis series.

It seems Cora's criticisms of his team's bats put them back on track. Boston's pitching has been electric and the story of its season, but the pitchers can't continue to dominate if the bats don't back them up.

Now comes a series with the Rays, and the Sox are looking for a quick turnaround on getting revenge from last week's four-game series loss to Tampa. A little more fire from Cora could certainly help.

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