Alex Cora gets along well with his Boston Red Sox players — but he also has no problem calling them out.
In the seventh inning of Boston’s American League Division Series Game 2 matchup with New York Yankees on Saturday night, Eduardo Rodriguez turned a few heads by failing to cover first base on an Aaron Judge infield chopper.
It looked like Rodriguez just didn’t hustle on the play, allowing Judge to beat him to the bag. Judge reaching base was a crucial play, too: Gary Sanchez blasted a three-run home run later in the inning to put the finishing touches on New York’s 6-2 win at Fenway Park that evened the series at 1-1.
Here was Rodriguez’s explanation of the play after the game, via MassLive.com:
“I just slipped on the mound and when I realized he was beating me already, I just let him get to the base.”
Cora wasn’t having the left-hander’s excuses, though. On Sunday, the Red Sox manager revealed the straightforward exchange he had with his pitcher after the game.
“I just talked to him and told him, “Just be accountable.’ That’s it,” Cora said, via MassLive.com. “I guess he told you guys he slipped or something like that. I’m like, ‘Man, if you don’t break right away, just be accountable. That’s all we ask.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, my fault. I just didn’t break. That’s it.’
“Hey, I get it. Next time just bust your ass to first base. That’s all you’ve got to do.”
It sounds like Cora handled this situation well: He directly addressed the issue — which needed addressing — without hanging Rodriguez out to dry. Still, the Sox manager knows Boston can’t make the same mistakes when the series shifts to New York on Monday for Game 3.
“Where we’re at right now at this stage, we can’t take plays off,” Cora added. “We didn’t do that the whole season. It just happened yesterday. But I talked to him, and we’re in the same page. Hopefully, the next ground ball to first, he goes to first, and we get him.”