Red Sox' loss a reminder there is no room for this kind of error

Rob Bradford
August 21, 2019 - 6:49 am

After his team's 3-2 loss to the Phillies Tuesday night Alex Cora was asked the margin of error question (the fact that the Red Sox don't have much room for it).

Why was this brought up? Because a bad baserunning play at a most key time offered a pretty powerful reminder regarding this team's lot in life. 

"It doesn't matter if you're in first-place or last place. You just have to play good baseball," he said. "They just made a mistake. Bogey (Xander Bogaerts) is one of the best baserunners we have and in that occasion, he just took off with the ball in front of him. He knows it. It's just a mistake." (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' loss, click here.)

Overall, the Red Sox played a spirited game in their series opener, all the way up to the ninth inning when Bogaerts led things off with a double into the left-center field gap. To that point, other than Brian Johnson giving up three first-inning runs, it was an entertaining baseball game, highlighted for the hosts by 5 1/3 shutout innings from five relievers.

"It’s incredible," said Johnson of the relievers that came in behind him. "I think it kind of goes underrated."

The reason it wasn't rated like it should have been? That one mistake.

What Bogaerts did was take off for third on a grounder to the shortstop with nobody out. It was an easy out and left the Red Sox with a runner on first base instead of in scoring position. All things considered -- with the Red Sox having already gotten runners to second with nobody out in two previous innings without anything to show for it -- it was a punch in the gut.

"Probably not the best way to think but based on how the game was going I felt like we were on second base a lot and we kind of got stranded the whole game," Bogaerts said. "It's just a risk I took to try to get to third because obviously we know it's a good pitcher and it was a mistake. Obviously wasn't the right decision."

Usually, all would immediately be forgiven.

But with 35 games remaining and the Red Sox now six games behind two teams -- Oakland and Tampa Bay -- there simply isn't a whole lot of room for "we'll get them next time."

Perhaps some looked at the series opener as gravy for the Sox coming into Tuesday, with Phillies ace Aaron Nola going up against a makeshift collection of Red Sox pitchers. And if not for that awkward ninth the story would have been simple -- Nola does what he does, dominate, this time via seven innings of two-run ball. But the door had been cracked open for Cora's club, and these days when that happens it better accept the invitation.

"Obviously it's tough," Bogaerts said. "I mean, tough losing anyone, especially someone of that caliber. Obviously one of the best pitchers in the game. We have him and DP on the injured list right now. I mean the bullpen did a great job tonight man. You've gotta give them some credit for that. I feel like just us as an offense and especially me in that last inning just kind of messed up."

Jackie Bradley Jr. supplied the Red Sox' only offense with a two-run homer in the third-inning.