Red Sox Notes: Bullpen Woes Prove Costly During Boston’s Homestand

“I think the word ‘inconsistency’ has been following us the whole season.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora and the rest of the Boston squad probably are relieved to have this most recent homestand behind them.

Boston easily could have finished 5-1 at Fenway Park, but instead settled for 3-3 after Wednesday’s rough 8-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox also suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays at home last week.

And both losses had one thing in common: it was the bullpen that let the game get out of hand.

In the loss to Toronto, the combination of Mike Shawaryn, Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes surrendered seven earned runs, spoiling Brian Johnson’s strong outing. As for Wednesday, it was Barnes again who couldn’t hold on to Boston’s lead, giving up a two-run homer to Jose Abreu in the ninth inning.

It’s certainly a frustrating way to lose, especially with Boston pulling out some thrilling victories of late and a chance to finish the homestand on a high note before the team jets to London for a two-game set with the New York Yankees.

“We’ve been talking about dominating at home. We have to do that,” manager Alex Cora said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “We have chances to start piling up wins at home, we haven’t done it. Sometimes we don’t start the game fast and there’s others we haven’t finished.”

And with all that in mind, just how deflating was this loss?

“We’re about to see,” Cora said. “Obviously we wanted to finish the homestand strong, in a good way. We came back, we put some good at-bats, we just didn’t finish. … We’ll see how we do in London.”

The skipper has harped on being better at Fenway this season throughout the year. But what exactly does he want to work on?

“Everything,” he said. “We just gotta keep working, keep getting better. pay attention to detail. We’ve been talking about this since Day 1 in Seattle. Pay attention to detail,  run the bases better, put better at-bats, finish the hitters. It’s all-around. … We just have to get better.”

Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Red Sox-White Sox game:

— Barnes has shown he’s a stronger pitcher when he pitches on at least one day of rest. And even though his ERA is close to 10.00 in consecutive starts, Cora still elected to go with the right-hander in the ninth.

“We’ve been playing a lot of close games and we’ve been using a lot of people,” Cora said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. ” …(Barnes) was the guy we needed today, it just didn’t happen.”

— Barnes wasn’t so easy on himself after the game.

“In the entire at-bat, the only mistake I made was the one (Abreu) hit. It’s unfortunate, I executed damn near every single pitch that I wanted to him and the one that didn’t get there, he hit a home run. … It’s tough to swallow when you execute 90 percent of the time and the one time costs you the game. … “Just a couple of pitches got me.”

— Chris Sale’s last two first innings have been abysmal. The left-hander needed at least 30 pitches in his last two starts to get out of the first.

“Rough again. I got to find a way to get out of the gate better,” he said. “Last couple of times out, early in the game, just put us in a hole.”

— Some good news, though, was that Rafael Devers picked right up where he left off in Tuesday’s win when he went 4-for-4.

The third baseman paced Boston with three hits, a team-high, with three runs. Cora noted after the game he might keep Devers batting second.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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