Alex Cora pushed all the right buttons in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, but he might have to make some more changes Tuesday night as the Boston Red Sox look to send the New York Yankees packing.
Cora’s multiple lineup changes paid off in Boston’s 16-1 drubbing of the Yankees on Monday night, most notably the move to insert Brock Holt into the lineup for Ian Kinsler. All Holt did was become the first player in major league history to hit for the cycle in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Rafael Devers took Eduardo Nunez’s place in the lineup and delivered a pair of base hits while driving in a run. Christian Vazquez assumed catching duties in place of Sandy Leon and collected as many hits (two) as Leon has since late August.
Sixteen runs pretty much speaks for itself, anyway.
But Cora likely will make at least one tweak to his lineup for Game 4. With Rick Porcello on the mound for the Red Sox in the potential clincher, we can only assume Leon will return to do the catching. Porcello didn’t throw a single pitch to Vazquez all season, while Leon caught 186 1/3 of Porcello’s 191 1/3 innings on the season. Cora could emphasize offense and ride the hot hand (Vazquez), but is he really willing to risk putting his starter in an uncomfortable position?
We’ll find out Tuesday afternoon, but the guess for us is “no.” Other than that, though, it’s hard to imagine a lot of change otherwise. Porcello traditionally is a ground-ball pitcher, which seemingly would prioritize infield defense and point to Kinsler at second base and Nunez at third.
It’s possible Nunez draws back in over Devers at third — especially with the left-handed CC Sabathia on the mound for New York — but you have to think there’s no chance Holt sits after doing something literally no player in major league history has done before.
All of that said, here’s our prediction for the Red Sox’s Game 4 lineup.
Mookie Betts, RF
Andrew Benintendi, LF
J.D. Martinez, DH
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Steve Pearce, 1B
Rafael Devers, 3B
Brock Holt, 2B
Sandy Leon, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
We shall see.