The Boston Red Sox reached the official mid-point of the regular season Tuesday night, with game No. 81 resulting in an 8-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at a soggy Fenway Park.
It was just two months ago that the Red Sox struggled out of the gate and owned a 10-19 record, sitting in last place in the American League East.
To Boston’s credit, they aren’t in the same position they were then, orchestrating a strong in-season turnaround so far that Red Sox manager Alex Cora could admire even after the loss.
“Overall, I’m not good at grades, but we are where we are,” Cora said as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “I think we’ve done an amazing job getting to this point if you think where we were going in that off day going into Atlanta. So, we just got to keep grinding, keep playing good baseball and we know this division is tough.”
Following the defeat, the Red Sox now sport a 45-36 record, good for second place in the division along with holding down the top spot in the wild-card standings. It hasn’t been an easy road to this point, either, with the Red Sox dealing with several injuries, including having most on their starting pitching staff currently on the injured list.
“We’re in a good spot,” Cora said. “We didn’t play well early in the season. We have done a better job I think offensively. Obviously, there’s stuff that we can’t control, health. But we’re not going to make excuses. We’re still going to show up and do our best.”
With 81 games still to go, Cora is just looking for the Red Sox to be in the playoff hunt once the calendar flips to September.
“I think this year if you look around talent-wise, not only in the (American League) East, but overall, there’s a lot of good players, a lot of good teams,” Cora said. “I believe like last year, it’s going to come down to September.”
Here are more notes from Red Sox-Rays:
— Nick Pivetta hasn’t dealt with many struggles on the mound over the last couple of months, but he ran into trouble against the Rays.
Pivetta looked to have settled in after allowing three runs in the first inning, but the Rays got to him for four more in the sixth, which ultimately made the difference. Pivetta ended up tossing 5 2/3 innings, surrendering seven earned runs and eight hits while walking two and striking out four.
“It’s kind of on me in that sense, where if we hold that game at three we probably win this game,” Pivetta said, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “Bullpen comes into an easier situation than what I left it in. Chalk this one to it’s on me, but move on from here.”
— Xander Bogaerts missed one game after receiving seven stitches for a laceration on his thigh Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. Back in the lineup Tuesday, Bogaerts delivered a 413-foot two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to quickly trim a three-run deficit to one.
The round-tripper snapped a power outage for Bogaerts, as the hit brought to end a 25-game home run drought, which was his longest since 2017, according to The Boston Globe?s Alex Speier.
— Christian Vázquez had a scary moment in the bottom of the ninth when he was hit in the head by a pitch from Jason Adam. Vázquez stayed in the game and following the contest Cora said the Red Sox catcher was feeling fine.
— The Red Sox put plenty of runners on the bases with 11 hits, but getting the timely base knock proved to be an issue. Boston left 11 runners on base and went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the loss.
“We had some chances throughout the ball game and we weren’t able to add on, or get the hit to get closer,” Cora said.
— The Red Sox and Rays play the rubber match of their three-game series on Wednesday. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET, and you can catch the game, plus an hour of pregame coverage, on NESN.