BOSTON — Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo took a step forward in defense of manager Alex Cora.

After Boston lost its second straight to the Rays on Sunday, heavily credited by a pair of errors that should’ve been routine plays made, Cora bit the bullet. He took all the blame for Boston’s error total reaching seven in the last six games, including four committed over the last 24 hours in three games with the Rays, as the Red Sox further dug their own divot in the American League East.

But Verdugo wasn’t having any of it, respectfully.

“The way I think and in my mind, how is it on him?” Verdugo said. “You’re not out there playing where I am. You’re not out there on the field doing the defense. You’re not in the box hitting. Like yeah, it’s on him to make the right calls and to put the right people that he feels necessary at that point. … But at the end of the day, we are the players. We are the ones that have to go out there and make the play and get it done.”

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Verdugo partook in the second of two pivotal defensive misplays, leading to the second two-run rally from Tampa Bay’s offense. Rays infielder Yandy Díaz slapped a chopping grounder through the gap at second base and into right field, which Cora noted Verdugo should’ve been more urgent to field. The Rays aggressively attacked the bases, executing a hit-and-run perfectly. But the dragged relay to the plate allowed Díaz to pursue second, which led to an airmailed throw attempt at nailing him out, thus allowing him to score.

“I didn’t see the ball until it came like into the outfield,” Verdugo explained. “So I just, you know, lost sight of the ball. It was a late jump on my end and (I) got there and threw it to second, which at that point I mean, Margot was fast so he never stopped running. So that run was on me. And then obviously the throw to second, we had nobody backing up because (Jarren) Duran was like with me kind of in that no man’s land. For that, we were just out of position.”

Boston’s defensive struggles have been a constant throughout its seven-game home stand. The subpar Cincinnati Reds took advantage of that same lack of defensive intensity, resulting in a lost series last week. The division standings didn’t change, as the Red Sox remain at the bottom of the barrel, but are now 11 games behind the Rays — also known as the best team in Major League Baseball through 61 games.

“We just gotta clean it up in all facets,” Verdugo said. “… We’re all professionals, we’re all in the big leagues, we all know how to play.”

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Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images