MINNEAPOLIS -- About eight hours before he walked off Target Field, Alex Cora offered a fairly notable comment regarding his team.
"It’s just, the vibe is different," said the Red Sox manager during his pregame meeting with the media. "I’ll tell you that right now. There’s no more searching. You feel it. you come to the ballpark every day now and it feels like last year. We’re finding ways to beat teams. It got to the point there, we were searching for mechanics and swings and whatever. Now, it’s different. Now it’s just a matter of putting everything together."
Then, following a 5-hour-, 45-minute, 17-inning loss to the Twins, Cora was asked if that overall vibe had been dented. (For more on the Sox' 4-3 loss, click here.)
"Not at all. Nah. The other way around, actually," he said when asked about any alteration of mindsets. "We’ve been in this situation before — extra-inning games, take something positive out of this. We’ll be fine."
This wasn't Game 3 back at Dodger Stadium. There were no Nathan Eovaldi-esque performances. This was also one inning and 95 minutes shorter than that Los Angeles World Series win. But what it did have was more to talk about than most 75th games of the season. That's what this much baseball will do.
So, for brevity's sake (because can't we all use some brevity after some of these games of late) let's bulletpoint this baby ...
- David Price only went five innings, giving up a run on four hits while throwing 73 pitches. After the game, Cora suggested this was the plan all along, needing to protect the lefty. Price wouldn't put the entire plan on his manager's shoulders, saying the abbreviated outing was his doing, as well.
"It was a collective decision," Price said. "It wasn’t on Alex. It wasn’t on him."
- Cora began his opening remarks by apologizing to the umpiring crew. The Sox manager came out to argue in the 17th inning that the Twins' Eddie Rosario had stepped out of the batter's box when bunting. The argument carried over to immediately after the game, with numerous members of the Red Sox yelling at home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak along with his colleagues Jim Reynolds, Stu Scheurwater and Mark Wegner as they left the field.
As for the Red Sox pitchers who were victimized by Kepler:
Brandon Workman gave up the run in the eighth thanks in part to a pair of walks, allowing the Twins to knot things up after Rafael Devers had given the visitors the lead in the seventh. The silver lining was that Workman flashed velocity not seen all season, touching 95 mph on his final pitch of the night, the first time he claimed such velocity this year.
Hector Velazquez' first batter was Kepler. The result was the solo homer which spoiled Mookie Betts' go-ahead blast earlier in the 13th. Velazquez rebounded to pitch four innings of three-hit ball before succumbing to a back injury while warming up for the 17th.
Brian Johnson was summoned to pitch what would be the final frame, with Marcus Walden the only other reliever to not appear. The outing didn't go well, with the lefty giving up three hits.
"I was good that’s why I went out there," said Johnson, who was scheduled to start Friday. "I told AC, I told Dana (LeVangie), I feel physically fine and I was able to go out there and obviously couldn’t get the job done."
- The Red Sox squandered a fair share of opportunities, but none were as painful as what transpired in the 17th. After an Andrew Benintendi leadoff single, the outfielder found himself at third with nobody out thanks to a stolen base and error. All of this with J.D. Martinez coming up. But unfortunately for the Red Sox this was not Martinez's night, with the designated hitter succumbing to one of his five strikeouts. He was followed by ground outs from Devers and Xander Bogaerts, ending the threat with a whimper.
- Despite the hiccups from Workman, Velazquez and Johnson, the overall work from the Red Sox' bullpen was positive. Pitching scoreless innings after Price's exit were Mike Shawaryn, Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes and Colten Brewer, with Josh Taylor spinning a pair of flawless frames.
"That was pretty cool to see, there were some good pitches there," Cora said. "What JT did today, two innings, facing lefties and righties, and Brewer and Shawaryn, there’s always something positive about these games. We can pitch with everybody that way. We did an outstanding job, just one of those we didn’t finish the job but there were a lot of positives in the pitching stats today."