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October 16, 2018

Alex Cora

Houston, Texas - postgame 3

Red Sox - 8, Astros - 2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alex Cora.

Q. What do you think has enabled you guys to play so well on the road in the postseason so far?
ALEX CORA: I don't know. We've been saying it all along, I know it sounds boring, but we prepare, we play and then we turn the page and they don't get caught up in the moment. I do feel that ALDS, we grew up as a team going to Game 3. The sky was falling in Boston, it seems like all of a sudden we weren't good.

And they put a great game in Game 3. Finished the job in Game 4 and coming to this environment, it's not easy to win here. This is a place that they feed off the crowd. They're very comfortable here offensively and to show up today and play the way we did, I'm very proud of them.

Q. These last two games with Jackie, the big hits he's had, have you seen that coming with him in the last couple of weeks?
ALEX CORA: We saw that coming in the middle of the season. We unplug him from the lineup and he worked hard to get his swing. Now he's very comfortable. He understands why -- what he has to do. Like I've been saying all along, you don't see too many hard-hit balls into the shift anymore. He's hitting the ball in the air. He's going the other way. And I think in the second half he put his whole game together -- defensively, offensively, running the bases.

And it's all him. It's a credit to him, because at this level, when you're hitting 180 after two months or I think it was three months, it is hard. And he kept showing up. He kept working. He kept working his craft. Now you see the results.

Q. Can you first talk about Nate and then talk about Pearce's home run?
ALEX CORA: Nate was outstanding. Like I said, stuff-wise, he's one of the best left in October. His fastball, his cutter. He didn't throw too many breaking balls. He did to Marwin. But overall a great outing.

He didn't get caught up in the moment either. For him, I know it was a special one. He's from the area. And I bet there's a lot of people, family members in the stands. And for him to be able to slow down the game in the second inning. The game was going very fast to us in the first. And all of a sudden in the second inning he slowed it down, and he did an outstanding job.

Q. Pearce?
ALEX CORA: We always talk about him hitting lefties but he's been putting good at-bats against righties there. He's been hanging in there. And the quality of the at-bats, they're good. They're really, really good. And just got a good pitch to hit. He just missed one the previous at-bat. But that one he barrelled and we needed that one right there because we didn't make a play and they tie the game and the place is going nuts and loud. And he put a good swing on it and got us back in the game.

Q. People have always talked about Eovaldi's stuff but this is not a guy with a track record of any -- of any veteran pitcher, are you surprised how many big starts he's produced for you guys?
ALEX CORA: No. I try not to talk about the Astros anymore. But I mentioned before his start in New York, it's kind of like the Charlie Morton story, you know, last year, throughout his career everybody talked about his stuff and just didn't happen and all of a sudden in October Charlie did what he did. And seems like Nate is in that train. I don't mind that either.

Q. Did Steve getting that home run when he got it, how important of a lift was that given that they had just tied the game?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, I mean whenever you hit the ball out of the ballpark is important. But they just scored and you could feel the place going nuts. And it's getting loud and louder. So it's not that he took the crowd out of the game, but it gave us confidence. And with Nate on the mound and the guys we had lined up for tonight, we felt comfortable that we were going to finish the job.

Q. Did you have any updates on Sale or Nunez's situation?
ALEX CORA: It's his ankle. It's not his knee. I think defensively he's been battling as far as that first step. He hasn't been able to push off. And right before that -- I really wanted him to get one more at-bat against Dallas because that's why he was in the lineup. But at that point I wanted to go take him out of the game, get some treatment and put Rafi in the game.

So with Sale, this is what he said, "I'm good enough." He didn't throw bullpen today. He'll go out there tomorrow. And then we'll go from there.

Q. How important was Brasier's innings, specifically the 3-1 count on Bregman, that's a pretty tight spot?
ALEX CORA: He made some pitches. It's been great for us. His fastball in the zone plays at this level. I know Alex put a good swing on it on a 3-1 count. Lines it up to center field. Right now it's a win for us. Going to barrel it. At least we got him out. The quality of his at-bats unreal. Unreal. But we trust our guys coming into October. I know a lot of people they were questioning our bullpen but we stayed the course. We knew that Barnesy was going to be healthy, that Ryan was going to be rested. Craig and obviously the situation with the starters. And even Joe today, he threw the ball well again. Barnesy did, too. So we feel good where we're at as a team, especially at the end of the ballgame.

Q. How much did the team use Bregman's post his bulletin board material really more mentioning it today either before the game, during the game, after the game, did you hear anything?
ALEX CORA: No, nothing.

Q. Also on the bullpen, how proud are you overall their last two games and do you think they've had a chip on their shoulder at all to kind of prove to the world on the national stage how good they are?
ALEX CORA: I don't know. You've got to ask them. But we really don't get caught up on what people think about us outside the clubhouse. We've been very consistent at staying within those walls. One thing I told them at spring training do not let the circumstances around you dictate who you guys are. And so far they're taking care of business.

Q. You think Sale could throw a bullpen tomorrow and then pitch the next day?
ALEX CORA: He'll throw a bullpen and we'll go from there.

Q. Did you think Kemp made that catch based on the replays you saw?
ALEX CORA: I haven't seen the replay. I just heard something -- I haven't seen the replay yet. I saw the one on the scoreboard, whatever, and that angle is always good for the home team.

Q. MLB's knowledge that they're looking into a matter at Fenway Park of the Astros using a camera near your dugout are you aware of any of that?
ALEX CORA: Somebody mentioned to me right now. I think that's an MLB issue. They'll do what they have to do. But I just heard today.

Q. Do you have any concerns that signs were being stolen or anything like that?
ALEX CORA: I'm always concerned about that throughout the season. So I mean we do a good job changing sequences and paying attention to details. And we don't get caught up on the whole paranoia thing of the signs. We try to slow it down. If we feel there's something going on we switch the signs.

Q. Did you think there was anything going on in those first two games at Fenway?
ALEX CORA: No, I don't.

Q. What do you remember about the reaction in the dugout when Bradley's home run goes out?
ALEX CORA: I think I threw my hands up. I mean, it was a weird inning. But everybody was in. We hit for Ian, with Brock -- and he actually told Joe that the ball hit him; very honest on his part. And then Mitch, he gets hit.

And Jackie, like I said, he's been consistent throughout the season. As soon as he hit it we knew that ball was gone. And then as a manager you start thinking ahead, like, Barnesy was hot already, so he's coming in. But at the same time let's get Joe ready so Correa doesn't see him. And then let's get Eddie ready to get the lefties or the pinch-hitters.

It's a good feeling. It was actually -- it's easy, well, it's not easy but easier to manage up six than a one-run game. And happy for Jackie. It's been -- it was a struggle early in the season, but he's been very consistent at the end. Like I said about Mookie, when those guys are smiling, good things are happening to the Red Sox.

Q. After the passed ball put Altuve into scoring position in the seventh, do you consider at all -- you got out of it by getting Bregman, but do you consider at all not pitching to him and taking your chance with Gurriel?
ALEX CORA: No, we still have to pitch the way we have to do. There's going to be certain situations that we're going to walk people. But I'm a big believer that when you walk somebody it's more traffic. And Yuli Gurriel is a good hitter, too, and I think he hit .500 with men in scoring position. There's a reason he's hitting behind Alex. I respect Yuli too. We made a pitch, we got him out and we move on.

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