It appears Alex Cora’s ability to push the right buttons didn’t get stuck in 2018.
The Boston Red Sox manager always seemed to make the right moves en route to a World Series title, and in the second game of 2019, it was a move he didn’t make that paid off.
In Boston’s 7-6 comeback victory over the Seattle Mariners, it was a three-run pinch-hit homer from Mitch Moreland in the top of the ninth that gave the Sox the win at T-Mobile Park.
After the game, Cora revealed he almost pinch-hit Moreland in the seventh inning, but he and the coaching staff opted against it.
“We were debating to hit Mitch in the seventh,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “(It was) still the seventh inning and the coaching staff was like, ‘You know, we should save Mitch in case something happens later in the game.’ We went with Blake (Swihart) first, we wanted Mitch to hit with men on, and he put a good swing (on it). … That was a big swing by Mitch.”
Moreland indicated that he made a concerted effort to stay dialed into the game knowing his number very well might be called.
“It’s definitely not (easy),” Moreland told NESN’s Guerin Austin of staying locked in. “(I was) just trying to stay in tuned with the game, try to see the situation and be as prepared as you can when you get there so that way you’re not surprised by anything and feel ready to go. And that was the case tonight.”
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Red Sox-Mariners game:
— All spring training, people wondered who would become the Red Sox’s next closer with Craig Kimbrel gone. That question never was officially answered during camp, but it kind of was Friday night.
When the bottom of the ninth rolled around and the Red Sox needed to protect the one-run lead just given to them by Moreland, it was Matt Barnes that got the nod, and he came through.
The righty recorded his first save since 2017 and third of his career, striking out a pair in a 1-2-3 inning.
Although the Red Sox could take a closer-by-committee approach with Barnes and Ryan Braiser, Barnes left a pretty good first impression.
— Barnes wasn’t the only reliever to have a solid night, either. In fact, the bullpen combined to throw four hitless, scoreless frames.
Colten Brewer made his Red Sox debut in the sixth inning, walking two and striking out one. Brandon Workman then retired the side in the order, punching out one hitter. Brian Johnson, appearing for the second straight game, earned the victory, striking out the side in the eighth.
— It was nice that the bullpen looked sharp, because for the second game in a row the starting pitching was not great.
Nathan Eovaldi followed up Chris Sale dastardly Opening Day outing by getting tagged for six runs on eight hits over five innings. Eovaldi allowed three home runs, walked a pair and struck out three.
While Eovaldi’s stuff itself wasn’t exactly bad, missed locations railroaded his outing, as the Mariners capitalized on any mistake he made, no matter how small.
— Sam Travis, who ended up on the roster due to Steve Pearce’s injury, made his season debut and led the Sox with two hits.