One-step forward, two steps back. That has been the story for the Boston Red Sox in July.
After breaking a five-game skid behind a solid outing from Nick Pivetta on Monday, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park on Tuesday with a game that got away from them quickly thanks to another poor outing from one of their starting pitchers. Josh Winckowski was knocked around by the Cleveland Guardians, failing to make it to the fourth inning in an 8-3 loss.
In his postgame press conference, manager Alex Cora talked about what went wrong for the rookie.
“I think with Josh (Winckowski), pitches were blending velocity wise,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He didn’t have his good fastball, his split was 88-89 (mph), the cutter, the slider, everything was blending together and when that happens there’s no swings and misses. I think there was only one if I’m not mistaken.”
Cora wasn’t mistaken, as Winckowski only produced one swing-and-miss on Tuesday. According to Red Sox Stats on Twitter, just 6.7% of Winckowski’s pitches have been whiffs in 2021. That is the worst percentage among the 165 starters that have thrown at least 600 pitches this season.
Winckowski admitted to feeling off postgame, but not due to his recent stint on the COVID-19 related injured list.
“Fastball kind of felt just a little off, not sure why,” Winckowski said. “Sinker felt ok, was probably about the only thing that was working. I’ve been talking about it before, I’ve got to figure something out with the slider, it’s just kind of getting, like, sideways and doesn’t have a normal shape.
“Not really (feeling off due to COVID), no. Not going to put the blame on that. I think my arm dragged a little bit but I threw yesterday and was throwing during the break… No excuses for that.”
Here are more notes from Tuesday’s Red Sox-Guardians game:
— Xander Bogaerts was Boston’s best bat, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored in the loss. In the third inning, Bogaerts was thrown out attempting to tag up on a fly-ball to right field — recording the third out in an inning where the Red Sox had already scored two runs. Despite the blunder, Cora supported his shortstops decision.
“I mean, it’s one of those that you trust the instincts, right?” Cora said. “(The outfielder) was flat-footed and (Bogaerts) saw it. He saw the opening and took a chance. … You can’t question him. He’s one of our best base runners and his instincts are that good. He was out by inches.”
— Boston has been outscored 157-82 in the month of July, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith.
— The Red Sox dropped their first game of the season wearing their City Connect uniforms. They are now 12-3 all time in the marathon-inspired jerseys.
— The Red Sox honored David Ortiz at Fenway Park for the first time since his enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Their pregame ceremony involved a video-tribute, speech from Ortiz, ceremonial first pitch and cart ride in front of his friends, family, fans and Red Sox legends.
— The Red Sox and the Guardians continue their series Wednesday night at Fenway Park. First pitch is scheduled at 7:10 p.m. ET, and you can watch the game on NESN 360 following an hour of pregame coverage.