Why do the Red Sox almost always feel a little off?


The ninth inning was unfolding just as one might expect for a team storming toward the postseason.

A two-run homer from newcomer Kyle Schwarber to tie things up, and then placing Xander Bogaerts at third base with one out and the team's hottest hitter, Alex Verdugo, at the plate. All of the discomfort from the previous eight innings was about to be washed away thanks to another walk-off celebration.

But then came the kind of about-face that has this Red Sox team running in quicksand.

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A three-pitch strikeout to Verdugo was followed by Hunter Renfroe's first-pitch, inning-ending pop-up.

Then, the guy who 24 hours before had given off the impression he might be a trade deadline steal, Hansel Robles, goes on to officially suck the life out of Fenway Park by giving up five runs.

Welcome to the take-one-step-foward, 1 1/2-steps-back Boston Red Sox.

With the 9-6 loss to the Twins Wednesday night the Sox now trail the Yankees by three games for the top Wild Card spot, still sitting 1 1/2 games over the A's for No. 2. As for the division, it is now a season-high 7 1/2-game deficit in back of Tampa Bay.

There is still hope and even some optimism. The presence of Schwarber has been as advertised. And lost in the loss was 2 2/3 key innings of hitless relief work by another trade deadline pick, lefty reliever Austin Davis.

Still, the expectation that this team can morph back into the early-season Red Sox is dwindling.

Christian Vazquez cost the team a run by forgetting how many outs there were. Alex Verdugo lolly-gagged his way out of the batter's box on a deep fly ball, resulting in getting thrown out instead of sitting on second. And the lineup's meat-and-potatoes - Xander Bogaerts (1-for-14), J.D. Martinez (hitless in his last 15 at-bats) and Rafael Devers (4 for his last 30) - aren't exactly punctuating games in a positive manner.

“It’s an area we’ve been bad,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora of the team's unforced errors. “We forgot the outs, we didn’t run out of the box. It’s probably a different game early on [if not for that]. Obviously, they don’t want to do that, but like I’ve been saying, sometimes we’re not doing enough, pushing-wise, because it keeps happening.

“Yeah, it’s on them. It’s on us. As a group, we’re not doing a good job with that. Those things you can control -- know the outs, run out of the box. It’s one of those that we need to do, and at this stage, it’s tough to watch. We talk about it, but it keeps happening. As a staff, we’ve got to keep pushing, keep pushing. We can’t give up.”

The list of almost-but-not-quites seem to be growing.

Nick Pivetta has gone from a middle-of-the-rotation no-doubter to just another example of the uneasiness, giving up four runs over four innings one start after going 1 2/3 innings.

Renfroe and Verdugo had been banging the ball over the ballpark up until those ninth-inning sad trombones.

And, of course, there was the all-to-brief round of hope that came and went with Robles.

Too many times over the last month it has seemed like the Red Sox are turning a corner only to run right into yet another wall. That was certainly the case Wednesday night.

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports