August 13, 2022

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Cora not worried about Red Sox's quiet start

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DETROIT — You could blame the late arrival in Detroit after the night game in New York on Sunday, but the Red Sox’s offense is still not quite at its customary high level four games into the season. 

Tigers starter Matt Manning set down the Red Sox for six innings in the 3-1 loss on Monday night at Comerica Park, with the only blemish a leadoff home run by former Tiger J.D. Martinez in the top of the fifth. 

Manning left a fastball down the middle, and Martinez launched it 413 feet into the left-field seats.

Martinez, who played 458 games for the Tigers from 2014-17, now has 60 career home runs at Comerica Park. But other than that, the Red Sox managed just three more hits. 

“I think [Manning’s] fastball played better than expected,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It was getting on you. He has plus extension and then velocity started picking up. … He did an amazing job. We didn’t hit too many balls hard, we didn’t do too much offensively. J.D. with the big swing and then [Rafael Devers] at the end.”

The Red Sox had scored 11 runs over three games in the opening series against the Yankees, winning just the final game on Bobby Dalbec’s sixth-inning solo home run.

“I don’t want to say any excuses, but we’re still three weeks behind a normal buildup,” Martinez pointed out.

Cora, though, is not worried at all. Last season, the Red Sox started the season 0-3 and only scored five runs in their first series against the Orioles, then tore off a nine-game winning streak in which they scored 67 runs.

“[I’m] surprised, but if this is how we’re talking right now, we should be fine,” Cora said. “We pitched well, they scored three. I believe we’re going to score runs. Just a matter, to be honest with you, of [slowing] the game down now and [not trying] to do too much, just … start putting good at-bats.

“[Alex Verdugo] put some good at-bats today, so I think it’s just [about not getting] caught up on the results, just get back to the process. … Just fight at-bats, keep going and get to the bullpen. If we do that, we should be OK.”

Cora also didn’t believe the late arrival had anything to do with Boston’s sleepy bats.

“[Manning] pitched the ball well,” Cora said. “He did an amazing job getting ahead with the fastball, extending with the breaking ball and finishing with fastballs away to lefties. Second time around, he started off with offspeed and then used the fastball off of that. It’s not about the traveling or whatever, it’s more about that guy pitching, and then the guys that came in. They did an amazing job.”

A silver lining for the Red Sox was the return of Matt Barnes, who missed the opening series with back tightness. He threw a scoreless sixth inning in his first appearance of the season, picking up an inning-ending strikeout after giving up a two-out double to Miguel Cabrera.

“There was a fastball there, 95, which is good,” Cora said. “The breaking ball played. … For him to go out there and pitch, it was a good sign.”

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