Are you buying the Red Sox can make a run at this? I'm not

Jim Hackett
August 15, 2019 - 9:59 am

So the Red Sox went into Cleveland and took two out of three from the playoff-bound Indians. Are you buying in? Let me make myself perfectly clear, I most certainly am not.

As the pudgy 70’s pop singer Meatloaf once crooned, "Two out of three ain't bad" but losing 12 out of 17 is and that’s exactly what your Red Sox have done over the last few weeks. Just bad enough to make even the most-clever mathematicians that happen to be Red Sox diehard fans, stop searching for statistical outcomes to support their case. 

More good news, according to Sox manager Alex Cora after Tuesday night’s win, "our playoffs started earlier than other teams." Ah, about that ... Given the month-long false start the Red Sox had under Cora’s country club like watch in April, I’d say your playoff mentality should have started three months ago. Holy Hearing Aids Batman! Could Cora be more tone deaf?

Last week I wrote a column that sliced up the blame pie for the 2019 Red Sox. The cumulative failures of players like Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, the bullpen and the inconsistency of Mookie Betts to name a few, took the largest share. Dave Dombrowski was a close second given his team building negligence both during the offseason and at the trade deadline, while Cora was given the smallest slice. 

That said, Cora’s comments of late, particularly from Tuesday night are concerning and frankly are giving me pause to rethink my blame percentages. 

Maybe he’s just tired. I sure am. Tired of the entire act from this 2019 Red Sox team. Whether it’s Sale telling us how poorly he’s performing while not improving, Price mouthing off about ghosts from the past, Cora too frequently looking back to last October or Dombrowski talking in riddles to sell a dysfunctional product to us, I too have grown more than tired. When you’re tired you don’t think clearly and there is plenty of evidence of late to suggest Cora most certainly is not thinking straight. Sunday’s loss to the lowly Los Angeles Angels comes to mind.

Enter Exhibit A: Chris Owings.

Here are the stakes. Sunday presented a chance to take three out of four versus the lowly Angels and hit the road with a bit of momentum after a tragic two week skid. What does Cora do? He sits Mookie Betts and calls on a light-hitting no-name minor leaguer named Chris Owings to lead off. The results were not good and predictably, when the bases were loaded and it was Betts’ time to hit, up came that day’s leadoff hitter, Chris Owings and down the Red Sox went.

The hallmark of Cora’s 2018 season was his frequently spoken of "magic touch." A magic touch speaks to having a great feel for the moment, understanding the momentum within a game, series or streak or simply by having sharp intuition. All things that have been very much missing this year and particularly glaring the past few days. Prime examples include Cora’s choice to lead off Owings in a must-have game, followed by keeping Sale in too long on Tuesday night and his beyond tardy proclamation that his team is now ‘playing with a playoff mentality.’ Each example proves a stark 180 degree turn in the wrong direction for Cora. The magic touch of last year is as distant a memory as the wonderfully consistent play of his 2018 team.

So though Meatloaf may have been right that "two out of three aint bad" it sure as heck isn’t enough to salvage this lost, frustrating and consistently inconsistent season. Now that the Sox have won two out of three in Cleveland, expect to be underwhelmed in short order. That is the hallmark of the 2019 Boston Red Sox. Consistently inconsistent and consistently frustrating. 

By the way, I never liked Meatloaf. I’d much rather quote one of my favorite artists, Bruce Springsteen when attempting to make a musical parallel to the 2019 Red Sox ...

"One step up and two steps back" seems much more fitting and it’s a much better song.