Red Sox lose another to Orioles in sweep as injuries, errors continue to pile up

BOSTON — Before Thursday’s game, the question was posed to Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora: How challenging has it been with so many injuries and moving parts early in the season?

“In this game, the beauty of MLB and the hard part of MLB is 162,” Cora said. “You got to show up every day with whatever you have and keep going. You can’t stop.”

In the midst of 13 straight games, the Red Sox have no choice but to keep playing as injuries mount and costly errors pile up.

Thursday, Rafael Devers sat out for the third time in two weeks with a sore shoulder. New shortstop Romy Gonzalez, tabbed as one replacement for surgery-bound Trevor Story, sat out with an injured left wrist. Cora had some maneuvering to do.

For nine innings, it nearly worked, until it all fell apart in a six-run 10th inning as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Red Sox 9-4 to complete a three-game sweep.

“We were running out of players. We did run out of players,” Cora said. “But it is what it is. It was a tough one. I like the way we fought. We were in there until the end. But obviously, tough series. Just have to turn the page.”

Any sweep at home is tough. But given the Red Sox were coming off a successful 7-3 start to the season on the West Coast coupled with the fact the Red Sox had chances to win each of the last two games against Baltimore, the sweep stung even more.

As on Wednesday night, the Red Sox squandered another lead Thursday thanks to a series of errors and miscues that have tested the dearth of depth on the roster. In the absence of Story, who’s headed for shoulder surgery Friday, the Red Sox have relied on a series of young and unproven infielders to fill second base and shortstop. At various points throughout the week, the defense has let the team down.

“We’re not converting outs,” Cora said. “That’s something we’ve been talking about the whole time. We’ve got to turn the page with Trevor. He’s not gonna be here, that’s the bottom line, and we have to step up. Whoever is playing, they’re capable.”

As the Red Sox clung to a 2-1 lead in the eighth, Joely Rodriguez took over but faced trouble right away as third baseman Pablo Reyes let Jackson Holliday reach on a ball that squirted through his legs. Rodriguez struck out Gunnar Henderson and almost got out of the inning on a 4-6-3 double play. But as Ceddanne Rafaela, who’d just entered the game at second, fed to David Hamilton covering the second base bag, Hamilton missed the bag before firing to first.

“I just got to the bag and Rafa was pretty close to it so I just assumed that he would get there himself,” Hamilton said. “That’s wrong of me to assume that. I’ve gotta be there and be ready to turn the play.”

With Holliday safe at second, Cora turned to Greg Weissert, who promptly allowed a two-run homer on the first pitch he threw to Anthony Santander, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

“We can’t give big-league teams more than 27 outs, and we’ve been doing that lately,” Cora said.

Cora emptied his bench, pinch hitting for Wilyer Abreu with Connor Wong in the bottom of the eighth and the move paid off as Wong hit a solo homer to tie it. Weissert got the first out of the ninth and turned it over to Kenley Jansen, whose shaky command wasn’t helped by a couple of questionable calls from home-plate umpire Jeremie Rehak. Jansen walked two but got the final two outs.

In the bottom of the ninth, Rehak ejected catcher Reese McGuire, and the Red Sox went down in order, making for an interesting start to the 10th inning as the Red Sox began to run out of options.

Wong had been playing second base with Rafaela in the outfield and Abreu out of the game, but after McGuire was ejected, Wong moved to catcher and Rafaela to second in a series of dizzying moves. Cora gave up the designated hitter and put Masataka Yoshida in left field, the first time he’d played in the field this season. The all-in moves didn’t matter.

Isaiah Campbell, one night after he had allowed three runs to the Orioles, gave up a homer to the first batter he faced in an eventual six-run inning for the Orioles.

“It’s nothing mechanical,” Campbell said. “I just didn’t do my job. Can’t leave too many pitches over the plate with these guys … this loss is on me.”

Campbell technically logged the loss, but it could have been pegged on any number of players, including Reyes and Hamilton.

At this point though, with the Red Sox relying on internal options rather than finding an external solution at shortstop, the team is choosing to live with the growing pains of its young infielders.

“We consider Hammy a good defender,” Cora said. “We’ve been talking about him for a while. We’re going to move them around and maximize the lineup and the platoon. We’ve just got to keep getting him repetitions there. He’s a good defender. He is. And we’ll keep running him out there.”

The Red Sox knew this would be a tough series facing the defending American League East champions, a surging young team with talent on both sides of the ball. But the fact they let two winnable games slip away added to the frustration of the week. That frustration only mounted as injuries piled up. First with Story, then with starter Nick Pivetta headed to the injury list, now with Devers sidelined for what might be a few days or more. Cora did not dismiss an injury list stint.

Meanwhile, Romy Gonzalez, who’d been a solid replacement at shortstop for Story, wore a brace on his wrist before the game. He’d injured his wrist on a sliding play Wednesday night, but X-rays on Thursday were negative. He’s day to day. The Red Sox can hardly afford more injuries at such an early juncture if they want to keep up in the division.

Their first AL East series did not bode well for that pursuit.

(Photo of David Hamilton, Ceddanne Rafaela and Jackson Holliday: Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox / Getty Images)

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