On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox began as difficult of a series as it can get in 2024 as they welcomed the Philadelphia Phillies, the team with the best record in the entire MLB, into Fenway Park. With the Red Sox struggling to climb over .500, defeating the Phillies will be a difficult task, although this matchup also represents an opportunity for them to measure how they stack up against the cream of the crop. But despite putting a solid account of themselves, the Red Sox still fell, 4-1, to open up the series.

There were a few factors to blame for the Red Sox's defeat. One of the main reasons why they couldn't get a win on the night was that they could not muster much offense against Phillies starter Zack Wheeler. But manager Alex Cora also wasn't shy to call out his team's defense after they botched two routine plays, with one of those two errors resulting in two runs for the opposition.

“When we don't make plays, [it's bad]. They're routine plays. It doesn't matter who's on your right or your left. You make the routine plays,” Cora said in his postgame presser, per NESN on Twitter (x). “When we make the routine plays, we're fine. Today, we just missed one. It cost us.”

The Red Sox manager, however, wanted to make it clear that he's not throwing anyone — particularly Dominic Smith, who was responsible for the error that let in two runs, and Rob Refsnyder, the man responsible for an error in right field — under the bus.

“I'm not upset at the guys. I'm not upset at the effort. You know, it's just the reality of who we are. When we don't make plays, we put ourselves in a bad spot,” Cora added.

With a 33-34 record, the Red Sox aren't in the worst spot, as they remain squarely within the playoff hunt in the AL. For Alex Cora, one of the ways they could make some noise this season is to continue improving on defense, cutting off their mistakes bit by bit.

“I wanna be elite. The best defensive team in the big leagues. That's what we're striving for. That's what we work hard [for] every single day. Regardless if it's a Sunday day game or a Sunday night game, we're gonna go out there and bust our ass and work hard at it.”

Dominic Smith has a bad day at work

Everyone has their fair share of bad days at their place of occupation. For first baseman Dominic Smith, this Tuesday night will something he will be raring to forget. Smith already was having a nightmare at the plate against the Phillies. He was 0-2 on the night, as he didn't make much hard contact on the night.

But he was also responsible for the play that essentially cost the Red Sox the game. In the top of the fourth inning, the Phillies had runners on at second and third with two outs. Kutter Crawford proceeded to induce a playable groundball towards Red Sox second baseman Enmanuel Valdez who easily snagged the ball for what looked like the final out of the inning.

However, the throw seemed to be very hot for Dominic Smith to handle. Smith wasn't able to snare the throw to first base, allowing two runs to cross the plate. It looked like a very rough botch from Smith, as the throw was on target and he just wasn't able to snag the ball. The Red Sox first baseman, however, defended himself by saying that it was a difficult play that could have put his body in harm's way.

“Unfortunate, you know. Tough play up the line, not trying to get my arm knocked off. Not trying to go and injure this,” Smith told reporters following the Red Sox loss. “It's very unfortunate. Something I'll probably make more often than not.”

Dominic Smith said that he had to play the delicate balancing act of not impeding the baserunner, which could have caused an injury for either men, while trying to stretch as far as he could on a throw that was along the first-base line.

“You could rewatch the replay. The ball is in the base line and I'm reaching to make the play while not getting injured and getting hit. It's not just a routine play,” Smith added.

The scorekeepers thought otherwise, as it was him who was hit with the error, not Enmanuel Valdez. Nonetheless, Dominic Smith has to clean up these kinds of errors from his game, especially when he's already not performing well at the plate (.641 OPS on the year, which is not a good look for a first baseman).