Following a 6-4 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday – the third defeat in a four-game series against the AL Central leaders – Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora emphasized the need for his team to improve defensively.

“It sounds repetitive, but we have to play better defense,” Cora said, per ESPN. “That’s the bottom line. We don’t make two routine plays and don’t turn a double play, and we lose by one. They’re good defenders. We’re not making plays right now.”

The Red Sox committed two errors on Thursday, leading to three unanswered runs for the Guardians which ultimately won them the game. Boston now has an MLB-leading 20 errors in 20 games. Only three other teams have more than 15.

Baseball is a game of seconds and inches, so even the smallest errors can cost a team big time. It's a long, grueling season, but it can feel even longer if a team doesn’t play well defensively.

The Red Sox are not in a position to make costly errors on an almost nightly basis. Boston is picked to finish last in the AL East by virtually every baseball analyst. Playing dreadful defense doesn’t help the case against that.

The Red Sox are starting a trend they don’t want to carry throughout the season. Following Thursday's game, Boston is 2-9 in games where they commit an error. Fielding errors in over half of games played is not something any team wants to make consistent, especially when it struggles to overcome those mistakes.

Always look on the bright side of life

Boston Red Sox, from left, shortstop Trevor Story (10), third baseman Bobby Dalbec (29), relief pitcher Josh Winckowski (25), pitching coach Andrew Bailey and catcher Reese McGuire (3) meet at the mound during the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners and at T-Mobile Park.
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Though the errors are certainly a big issue, the start to the 2024 season hasn’t been all doom and gloom for the Red Sox. Perhaps they won’t contend for a division title or even a playoff berth, but there are positives Boston can take from the first three weeks of the season.

Red Sox pitching has been phenomenal, entering Friday as the league leader in ERA and strikeouts. The starting rotation, which was the biggest question mark coming into the year, has a 1.82 ERA across 104 innings. That's with de facto ace Brayan Bello posting a 3.92 ERA in four starts.

Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly offensively, but the Red Sox are tied for third in the MLB with 24 home runs. There are bright spots in the lineup, most notably Jarren Duran. The fourth-year outfielder has emerged as a solid leadoff hitter for Boston, reaching base safely in 17 of the 20 games he's played, including seven multi-hit games.

The lineup did take a blow earlier this week when Rafael Devers and Tyler O'Neill collided on a fly ball on April 15. O'Neill appears to have gotten the worst of it as the Red Sox placed him on the seven-day injured list with a concussion.

O'Neill is Boston's best hitter this season, cracking seven home runs with a .313 batting average and 1.209 OPS in 15 games. There is no set timeline for his return.

Devers has a bone bruise that isn’t expected to put him on the injured list, though the Red Sox will be cautious with their star third baseman.

Boston is 10-10 and begins a three-game set on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.