BOSTON — What was manager Alex Cora thinking taking his hottest hitter out of Saturday’s game against the Mets?
Leadoff hitter Jarren Duran singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. He was stranded at first base when Justin Turner, the next hitter, flied out. Cora then removed Duran, who went 2-for-4, with the Red Sox trailing by one run.
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Rob Refsnyder, who pinch hit for shortstop Yu Chang in the seventh inning, remained in the game. He took Duran’s spot in left field to begin the top of the eighth inning and remained as the No. 9 hitter. Kiké Hernández entered as a defensive replacement at shortstop and was inserted into the leadoff spot.
Duran’s spot in the lineup ended up coming up again with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Hernández flied out to center field to end the game.
“We’ve got to get to the first spot (again),” Cora said. “If we don’t get there, the leadoff guy doesn’t hit. So it’s a balance, right? So that’s the reason he came out. We wanted to keep Ref in the game to extend the lineup. We extended the lineup. But there’s no guarantee we get to the leadoff spot without extending the lineup.”
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The Red Sox could have left Duran in the game, removed Refsnyder after he pinch hit and brought in Hernández as the defensive replacement for Chang. That would have put Hernández in the No. 9 spot.
But Cora felt Refsnyder hitting in the ninth spot was a better way to extend the lineup. Obviously there was no guarantee either of those two spots (No. 9 and leadoff) would hit again until two men reached for Boston in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Boston went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.
“I didn’t think we made contact when we had to,” Cora said. “We had chances to cash in with a ground ball — put the ball in play with the infield back — we didn’t do that. … You run out of outs.”