Alex Cora never has been afraid to go against the grain during his tenure as Red Sox manager. He certainly wasn’t Monday night in Boston’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.
With the White Sox clinging to a 5-4 lead in the top half of the eighth inning, right-hander Colten Brewer was one strike away from getting the Red Sox out of the frame before James McCann stole second base on a 2-2 count to Jon Jay to put a potential insurance run in scoring position. Given the intensified leverage of the situation, Cora no longer was comfortable with the matchup of Brewer vs. the lefty Jay. So instead of rolling the dice, the Red Sox skipper tapped into his bullpen during the middle of the at-bat and tasked southpaw Josh Taylor with pitching to Jay, who now faced a 3-2 count.
The move eventually worked, as Taylor walked Jay before striking out Yoan Moncada to end the inning. Boston responded by scoring the game-tying run in the bottom half of the frame and walked off in the ninth to vault back into the win column.
As for the method to Cora’s madness, the second-year manager explained after the game.
“I don’t want Jon Jay to put the ball in play against a righty there,” Cora told reporters, per MassLive.com. “I know he can go out of the zone and flick it to left field. If McCann would have hit a double, it was going to Taylor against Jay. I was like no, you know what, it’s lefty against Jay and we’ll take our chances. Taylor is throwing the ball great and it’s a matchup that’s actually better for us, so we went with it.”
Cora continued: “If we want to bring in a guy for a guy in scoring position and that guy’s at first and there’s a wild pitch or something like that, why not?” Cora said. “If we don’t like the matchup with men in scoring position, why hang with that because the at-bat is going on? It worked out.”
Given how unusual the situation was, Cora also made sure to put both of his pitchers involved at ease.
“It was a tough one, trying to tell (Brewer), just hang in here with your crazy manager,” Cora said. “Then Taylor came in and I said, ‘Just relax, brother.’ This is just a kill pitch. If you strike him out, you strike him out. If you walk him, you walk him.”
Victories have been harder to come by for Boston this season, so it’s tough to blame Cora for being a bit unconventional in an effort to rack up a W.
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