All it took was one Red Sox middle reliever to not have his best stuff Tuesday and it essentially led to Boston’s second consecutive loss, a 3-2 defeat to the Oakland Athletics.
Darwinzon Hernandez took the mound in the seventh inning after starter Nathan Eovaldi had allowed just two hits and one run in the prior six frames.
Hernandez, though, allowed each of the first three batters he faced to reach base and then was pulled after just 1/3 of an inning. The left-hander took the loss after allowing two runs on two hits with just seven of his 16 pitches going for strikes.
“I think it was a good pocket for him. A lefty, a switch-hitter, a righty and another lefty. We need to get the job done in those innings,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on a postgame video conference. “Him (Hernandez), (Josh Taylor), they have to do a job. I mean, the stuff is there. Today was inconsistent with location.”
Hernandez now has allowed eight runs on 12 hits with 11 walks over 11 2/3 innings this season.
It wouldn’t be completely fair to only pick on the 24-year-old, as the reality is the middle relief hasn’t been great for the Red Sox in general. Taylor has allowed nine runs on 19 hits and seven walks in 12 2/3 innings while Adam Ottavino had allowed seven earned runs on 11 walks and 10 hits in 14 innings entering Tuesday.
Cora, thus, has to keep an open mind when it comes to those he wants in the seventh and eighth innings in front of reliable closer Matt Barnes. Essentially, nobody (besides Barnes) has their job locked down, and Cora’s message depicted just that.
“I mean we?re searching. You?ve seen it,” Cora said. “Obviously, we do feel very comfortable with some of the guys back there. We still have yet to get these kids going. They’re very important. Stuff-wise, we know what they can do. We’ve seen it before, but we need them to be more consistent. And when that happens then the structure is going to be a lot easier.”
The Red Sox return to the diamond Wednesday against the Athletics at 7:10 p.m. ET. NESN will have full coverage of the middle contest.