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October 9, 2018

Alex Cora

New York, New York - pregame 4

Q. Alex, were you at all tempted to start Holt and Devers tonight?
ALEX CORA: No, not at all. We've been doing this the whole season. Like yesterday we felt that that was the best lineup for us was to attack Severino, and tonight we feel this is the best lineup to attack CC Sabathia. He's one of the best lefties in the big leagues. He's a lot tougher against lefties than righties, and we've got a group of righties that we feel we can match up with him and take advantage of the situation.

Q. Alex, what are you expecting from Rick Porcello tonight?
ALEX CORA: A quality start. Go six, three or less, and give us a chance to win. He's done that throughout the season. It seems like against them he's given us a chance to win whenever he goes out there, and we're very comfortable with him on the mound.

Q. Alex, just because what Holt did last night was unprecedented, did you even like say anything to him? I'm sure he was expecting to not be in the lineup against a lefty, but did you even like say anything to him?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, I told him it's a tough league. I talked to him this morning, and he knew. He knew where we were going. Let's see how the game plays out. It's one of those that either we get to CC early and they bring the righties, or we have to grind out at-bats against CC for five innings, and we need the righties.

So he'll be ready. The way they managed the game in Game 2, if it's a close game in the middle there, we expect Dellin and Robertson to be part of the equation and Raffi and Brock will be ready to come into the game.

Q. Alex, it's not the hardiest sample size, but in his four postseason starts, Porcello has struggled quite a bit. Why do you think that won't apply to tonight? And do you have any reasons for why you think he has?
ALEX CORA: He's never pitched for me, so I don't know. I don't remember him like pitching in the playoffs and struggling. I can't recall. But he's prepared. That's the only thing you can do. We have a good game plan going in. They made some adjustments in the lineup, but throughout the season, he's been good against them.

Like I said before, he's been going deep into the game, giving us a chance to win. That's what we're asking for. I do feel offensively we can score a few runs early in the game, and give us a cushion, and he'll go from there.

We're rested in the bullpen, which is very important at this stage of the series, and I think he'll be fine.

Q. With guys like Pearce and Kinsler who you added midway through and a versatile guy like Holt, how important is the depth on this team and at this time of year?
ALEX CORA: We talked about versatility throughout the season. It's very important. Brock, as you know, he can play everything except catching and pitching. Pearce, he can DH, he can play first, we can put him at second, he can play the outfield. We're playing in an era where that's needed. You have to maximize your roster, your position players. We've got Blake, who can catch and play different positions. And it helps you to manage the game. You don't feel that you're tied up to eight guys, nine guys in certain positions.

You saw it yesterday. We moved Mookie to center field and Jackie to left field, and that's what helps us to manage the game, and those guys are very important for us.

Q. Alex, in other sports it's not unusual for coaches to try to influence umpires the way a game might be called. And I'm just wondering, in baseball now with instant replay, really it's just balls and strikes. Are there things that managers can do to have a say in that?
ALEX CORA: I'm joking here, don't take it seriously, but tonight I have the upper hand because I'm bilingual and the umpire behind the plate is too. So I can use both languages tonight.

The thing now, honestly, you get the feedback. You don't want to -- well, you're not supposed to get feedback from like inside, but guys are watching the game, they go to the clubhouse, and they tell you how many pitches were borderline pitches or outside the box, and we know. So right away you react to it.

Most of the time -- there was a game the other day, like I think I was screaming, and I screamed like six or seven times, and then somebody said, Hey, that was a strike, by the way. You can't tell from where we're at. You try to put pressure, but at the end, I don't think that changes.

They're going to call the game the way they see it. They do a good job of it. It's not an easy job, especially nowadays with the stuff that we see on a nightly basis.

We're talking about guys -- like last night. He throw 99, with a cutter at 95 and a split at 92. That's tough. I can't even think about calling strikes and balls, and they did an outstanding job yesterday.

Q. Is there any concern just that, I mean, the game that Angel had last night at first base and he's somebody that's been criticized quite a bit for his work behind the plate, including by one of your players. Is there any concern on your part about him being behind the plate in a game like this?
ALEX CORA: No. There's a reason he's in this series, and he has a job to do just like all of us.

Q. Alex, you mentioned yesterday how special Yankee Stadium is. How much would it mean for you to close it out, for the Red Sox to close it out in Yankee Stadium?
ALEX CORA: I don't know, man. We just want to win the series. It's either here or in Boston. This is a special place. Early in the season we clinched here, and like I mentioned, it was like full circle for me. I still remember that interview last year at the hotel in October, and that was the beginning of this.

If it's here, well, I mean, it's great. There's a lot of family members. There's a lot of people from my country that live here and moved here. My parents lived here for 30 years at one point.

I don't know. That's a cool part of it, but it's not like it will be more special. We have a chance to do something special tonight, and if we don't do it tonight, then we'll do it in two days.

Q. Can you translate?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, she asked me about J.D., like how in Boston we talk about people coming in the first season and they struggle. What made J.D. adjust so well to the Red Sox and the city? I was telling her that we've been talking about throughout the season -- you know, we talked with J.D. and Scott in Orlando. We had a meeting for an hour and a half in the Winter Meetings. After the meeting, I told Dave, I said, This kid, he'll be fine because the way they talk about the game, how passionate he is about it. With J.D., it's baseball 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This kid, his preparation and the way he goes about the game is amazing. I have no doubts that he was going to be fine.

We play in a city that they're very passionate about sports. They talk about the Red Sox, especially now, 24 hours a day. For him, it's just a regular day because he's so passionate about the game.

Q. Alex, obviously, before you got here, this team was bounced twice in the Division Series. Have you felt any burden of that this year of the importance of finally getting past that this round? Now that you're one game away from it.
ALEX CORA: No. We set our goals, and our goals are way up there, way up there. Obviously, it starts with the Division and then the best record and home field advantage. But now this is step 4 or whatever it is. We won two games. We still need to win one more game to advance to the next round, and if we do that, then we got a challenge with the Houston Astros, and if we do that, then we'll play the Brewers or the Dodgers.

Our goal is to win 11 games in October, basically. Right now we're close to taking one more step, and then we'll talk about the next one.

Q. Regarding Tzu-Wei Lin, has been with the team a couple days and took BP yesterday. So what's the plan for him in the postseason, as well as the update on Moreland's injury.
ALEX CORA: With Mitch, he's available, but obviously he's not starting. I was joking with him yesterday. Maybe if he hits, he'll have his Kirk Gibson moment.

With Lin, just keep him around here, and if something happened with Mitch and he can't go, at least he's close with us. He's not in Florida. He's working out with us, and if we make a decision to add him to the roster, either in this round or the next one, at least he's working out with us.

Q. What is it about Benintendi that's allowed him to have so much success against these guys this year?
ALEX CORA: He's a good player. He's just a pure hitter, and he has a pretty good idea what he wants to do at the plate. He pulls the other way. He hits the ball with power. He's a good base runner, a good defender. I always said those guys that got picked in the first round, they're talented. They're talented.

I'm a big fan of Andrew. People have this conception that he doesn't like baseball, and it's the other way around. At 7:05 or 8:05, it's fun to be around him because he grinds and he wants to go after you. I think that's the edge he has. He wants to win every pitch. He's never -- I mean, he wants to be better in every aspect of the game. We're very proud of the way he approaches the season.

He got challenged right away. You're going to hit second for us, right behind Mookie Betts and in front of J.D. Martinez. I mean, it's a cool spot to hit, don't get me wrong, but it's a challenge, and he's been great for us.

Q. Alex, a year ago when you were with the Astros, you were in the same position. You guys brought in Verlander in relief. As you sit here now, how do you balance that potential of going for the kill tonight with keeping Game 5 in your back pocket, if necessary?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, I know where you're going with that one. With me, and I've been telling the people in Boston, but I didn't agree with that move. A.J. was the manager. When he brought in Verlander, I remember it was against Benny, and Benny hits it out of the ballpark, I said, Hey, how long are you going to keep him out there? Because I'm thinking Game 5. And A.J. goes, Let him finish the inning. And he goes out there again, and I look at the bullpen, and there's nobody in the bullpen. I say, How long are you going to stay with him? He's like, The whole game. Okay, you're the manager.

So there's a fine line. It's a fine line, and it almost didn't work, but we had Dallas, I think, go in Game 5, but it didn't happen.

You got to be smart. And in this game, 100 percent, it doesn't guarantee you anything because there's a guy on the other side with a bat and they can change the game with one swing. So we'll see. We'll see how it goes.

Like I said, we've got two shots right now guaranteed that, if we don't do it tonight, we've got a shot for Game 5. So we'll keep that in mind.

Q. Alex, perhaps this is a media conjured thing, but in what ways is a closeout game a different challenge?
ALEX CORA: Good question. Mentally, you can't -- don't get ahead of yourself. It's not just another game, let's be honest, but if you stay in the moment, you're going to be fine. If you start thinking what if, you know, if I do this, what happens later on? No, no. Just stay in the moment, win every pitch. At the end of the night, we'll know. Either we celebrate here in Yankee Stadium, or we pack our bags and go to Fenway and go at it in Game 5.

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