By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke had some explaining to do after the team’s 8-7 loss to the Rays on Monday night.READ MORE: Winthrop Woman Found Dead On Camelback Mountain In Arizona
In the wee hours of the morning following Boston’s 10th loss of the shortened season, many were wondering why Roenicke didn’t pinch hit Mitch Moreland for Michael Chavis in the bottom of the ninth. In case you fell asleep during the four-hour, 24 minute marathon, here’s the scene: Boston had the tying run on base in J.D. Martinez. With one out, Xander Bogaerts lined out to right for the second out of the inning, leaving Michael Chavis to save the day.
Chavis, who was 1-for-4 with a strikeout at the time, was a prime candidate to be pinch-hit for, especially with Moreland starting the game on the bench. But that is where Moreland remained, despite being 8-for-25 with six homers and 11 RBIs against right-handers this season.
Let that soak in again: Mitch Moreland is 8-for-25 with six homers against righties this season. He was also coming off a two-homer game, including a walk-off blast, against the Blue Jays on Sunday.
It would have made for some interesting theatrics late Monday night at Fenway Park. But instead of the red-hot Moreland, it was Chavis who stepped to the plate. Rays right-hander Andrew Kittredge struck him out on four pitches (Chavis’ sixth K in 12 at-bats against righties this season) and the game mercifully came to an end. The Red Sox are now 6-10 on the season.
Following the loss, Roenicke said Moreland was not available at all on Monday night, which we all kind of surmised given how things ended. The skipper had no intention of using his best hitter, even when a situation like the bottom of the ninth arose.
“Mitch wasn’t available tonight. He came in, his knee was bugging him after that day game yesterday,” said Roenicke.READ MORE: Laundry Detergent Spills On I-495 After Rollover Crash In Wrentham, Causes Significant Delays
Understandable, though it certainly doesn’t feel like there is any angst from the Red Sox in this 60-game season. And sending Chavis to the plate in the ninth wasn’t Roenicke’s only questionable move on Monday.
He also left reliever Jeffrey Springs on the hill way too long. Springs, who now touts a 15.43 ERA in his three appearances, had just given up a pair of hits, a walk and a run in the sixth, letting Tampa take a 5-4 lead. The Red Sox were able to tie it up in the bottom of the inning, but then Roenicke sent Springs back out for the seventh. No one was warming in the bullpen for Boston.
That’s because they didn’t want to overwork any of their overworked relievers. Springs gave up back-to-back singles before Kevin Kiermaier roped a two-run double to put Tampa on top for good, 7-5.
Spings’ final line: 1.1 innings, five hits, three earned runs.
Why Springs and not Heath Hembree or Matt Barnes in that situation?
“It was just because we were trying to stay away from two guys in our bullpen that we’ve been using a lot,” Roenicke explained. “We needed him to go. It was a good matchup for him with all the lefthanders in the lineup, but we just can’t keep pitching the same guys all the time, every time we have a close game. That seems to be what we’re playing. It’s the case of staying away from some people, hoping that he can get through some innings for us, and confident enough that we think he can.”
Boston’s pitching was always going to be a problem this season. It will continue to be a problem as the team struggles to find any reliable starters outside of Nathan Eovaldi, which adds further strain to the bullpen.MORE NEWS: 'Definitely Concerned': Travelers At Logan Airport Cautious About Catching COVID Delta Variant On Summer Trips
The team has very little wiggle room this season, and if the Red Sox want any shot at making the expanded postseason, they can ill afford any mistakes along the way. On Monday night, Roenicke made two questionable decisions, both of which could have changed the outcome of the game.