Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora admitted the rather obvious after a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field.
The fact starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez did not even get out of the second inning wasn’t something the Red Sox planned for. But the Red Sox didn’t panic in the moment, and they’re not panicking going forward either.
“The way we were set up, we felt like right there we had to contain the game,” Cora said of pulling Rodriguez after he allowed two runs with a runner on second in just 1 2/3 innings. “So (Garrett Richards) came in and got the out and Nick (Pivetta) gave us quality innings. It’s not that we map it out that way, but we felt with that lineup and the way they are, that was the moment we had to stop it right there to get Randy (Arozarena) out and move forward and we did.”
Richards induced an inning-ending ground out — the only at-bat Arozarena didn’t reach base — before Pivetta came in and saved the bullpen by going 4 2/3 innings.
“He gave us a chance to win the game. It’s not only that he was coming to get the bulk of the innings,” Cora added, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We felt if we contained their offense, for a while there, we’re good enough offensively to put traffic. It just happened that we didn’t score.”
Here are more notes from Red Sox-Rays:
— No, the Red Sox didn’t score, but it wasn’t because they didn’t have the opportunities. Boston was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-18 with a runner on base. The Red Sox, who out-hit the Rays nine to six, squandered their best (and last) chance of the night in the eighth inning after having the bases loaded with one out.
“We had traffic out there and just didn’t cash in,” Cora said. “Bobby (Dalbec) hit a few missiles with men on. Obviously, in the eighth we loaded the bases and didn’t score. There was some good at-bats in the middle of the game, grinding at bats, others were kind of empty, but I think overall we did a good job hitting line drives and staying in the middle of the field.”
— Speculation came into play during Thursday’s game that Rafael Devers may be injured, but Cora shut that down.
“It’s the grind of 162 (games),” Cora said. “Not everybody is 100% right now.”
— Both Pivetta and Cora explained how the Red Sox remain plenty confident going into Friday’s matchup. Boston will have Chris Sale on the mound for Game 2, and know if they have the at-bats they had Thursday a big hit will come sooner or later.
“Chris is an extraordinary pitcher. He has been his entire career. I think it’s going to give us a lot of confidence going into that game tomorrow,” Pivetta said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Splitting the series is a priority for us and I think that’s what we need to focus on going forward and it’s not making the moment too big, but having fun, going about it, because this is what everybody dreams of.”
— Game 2 from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. ET on Friday. You can watch pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. on NESN.