It's time for Alex Cora, Red Sox to take a deep breath


Turning the page can be a challenge, especially when the instinct is to throw out the entire book, altogether.

That, however, isn't an option for Alex Cora and Co. There is still a playoff hunt to be had, three more games this week at Tropicana Field, and a regular season that still includes 29 more games.

The Red Sox' challenge is to put Monday night's 6-1 loss to the Rays -- along with all the COVID news that smacked them in the face before, during and after -- in the rearview and somehow understand things could be worse.

As tough as it is to see right now, there still might some chapters worth writing for the 2021 Red Sox.

“We still have a good team. We’re in position to make the playoffs,” Cora said dropping to nine games in back of the Rays. “We know there will be guys coming back. I don’t know when, but they will come back. The way I see it: keep grinding, keep going.”

The manager added, "I’m just tired, to be honest with you, to be thinking about it the whole time and have to deal with this before a game and during the game and all that. Honestly, that’s how I feel right now. The season part, all that stuff, that’s the easy part for me. To have to deal with everything that has to do with this, it’s not easy. I love to prepare for a game the easy way. Look at video, talk to hitters and pitchers and all that."

The good news is that the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. has long been known to possess the best beds in the American League. The bad news is that Cora woke up looking at a roster and coaching staff that has been turned inside-out.

Before the game, it was news that pitchers Matt Barnes and Martin Perez were the latest Red Sox to be diagnosed with contracting COVID, joining Kiké Hernandez and Christian Arroyo. During the loss, in approximately the fifth inning, it was learned reliever Josh Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin been deemed close contact. And to top of the day, coach Ramon Vazquez also tested positive for the virus.

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Not great.

The Rays kept rolling out their electric arms and positive vibes all the way to ninth win over the Red Sox in the teams' last 10 meetings. Bobby Dalbec did hit a solo home run ... so there was that.

The narrative that lingered throughout the first few days of August, suggesting that the Red Sox needed to just hang on for a couple of weeks until the likes of Chris Sale, Kyle Schwarber, Ryan Brasier and Arroyo could come in and save the day, has been rebooted.

Just hang on. That is the rallying cry.

The Yankees have suddenly started losing again, dropping their third straight to put the Red Sox just two back of that top Wild Card spot. There s still a two-game cushion over the A's for the postseason's final position.

The Red Sox' starting rotation has settled into a pretty good spot, while Dalbec has offered some end-of-the-order optimism. Brasier is finally back with the team. They also still have the two Garretts - Richards and Whitlock - to lean on.

"It is what it is. It’s part of life," Cora said. "I’ve been saying it all along. It’s not easy. But it’s not only happening here, it’s happening all over the world. That’s the way I see it. I’m just glad the people who tested positive feel OK. they’re going to be OK. On the professional side of it, we just have to keep grinding. Nobody is going to stop the tournament because we have X amount of cases and X amount of guys in close contact. They’re not going to stop this. We went through that early in the season but not now. They’re not going to do that. We just have to keep finding ways to keep competing and going out there and trying to win ballgames. That’s what we have to do as a group. Tomorrow is another day and we have to prepare the same as we did today. Keep going and going."

Did we mention they are sleeping in the best beds in the American League? Deep breaths ...

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports