Alex Cora was the star of the postseason, whether he wants to admit it or not.
The Boston Red Sox manager hit all the right buttons in 2018, appearing to have a magic wand to conjure up exactly what the Red Sox needed at any given moment, piloting them to the 2018 World Series title.
Cora’s final act of wizardry came after Boston lost Game 3 of the 2018 World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 18 innings.
The Red Sox manager went for broke. Supposed Game 4 starter Nathan Eovaldi hurled seven innings in relief in the loss, giving up a walk-off home run to Max Muncy after an Ian Kinsler error in the 13th extended the game and kept Boston from taking a 3-0 series lead.
Such a demoralizing loss could have broken the team heading into Game 4, but Cora addressed the team immediately after the defeat and what he said might have changed the course of history.
Cora gathered the team and told them how proud he was of the effort they had just poured into the longest World Series game in history. He lauded a few players in particular, namely Eovaldi, and by the end of the meeting the team had gone from dejected to inspired.
“Everybody went into that meeting with their head down,” third base coach Carlos Febles said, via Alex Speier of The Boston Globe. “After that meeting, everyone was clapping their hands, ready to go. He said, ‘As far as I know, we’re still up, 2-1. It took them 18 innings to beat us.’
“It was kind of a relief to the club, having those guys know, hearing Alex say, nobody feel bad. Then he had Nate stand up and everyone gave him a standing ovation.”
Cora’s speech had a profound impact on his players and turned the tide in the Fall Classic.
“It was emotional,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said, via ESPN. “By the end of it, we felt like we won the game.”
The Red Sox responded to Cora’s rallying cry by erasing a four-run deficit in Game 4, scoring nine runs in the final three innings to set up David Price’s dazzling, series-clinching performance in Game 5.
“Right moment. Right time. Right words,” hitting coach Tim Hyers, via WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images