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October 23, 2018

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts - postgame 1

Dodgers - 4 Red Sox - 8

Q. Can you talk about the Red Sox attack tonight.
ALEX CORA: Some good at-bats. A lot of good at-bats together. From the first at-bat we put pressure on them. And that's what we do. We stayed off the edges of the strike zone, we attacked pitches in the middle of the zone, and we did an outstanding job offensively.

Q. You told us before the game you thought it was going to play out like this with the matchups and pinch-hitters. Is that for a manager a fun game necessarily to play it that way?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, I mean I love it. I love it. It's a challenge. They're going to mix and match. They're going to pinch-hit, they're going to bring their relievers. And you have to -- and you know how I say I hate managing the other team, but actually you have to manage them and see who they have, and where they're going to come in, and when is going to be the point that the matchup is going to benefit us.

In that inning I think we had a few matchups that we felt comfortable with. Beni gets on, we've got Mitch against Baez, and then we had Nunie against Wood.

Something that we talked about it today, when he came in probably he was a little bit disappointed that he didn't start, because he's been starting against every lefty. But we felt Raphy was going to hang in there with Kershaw. And having him on the bench, it was going to pay off. You've got to keep a righty. Pearce is playing. Ian was playing. So keeping him in the dugout and out of the lineup was going to probably give us a chance to win the game.

And it worked out. He was prepared. He wasn't upset, actually, that he wasn't playing. I told him, "Be ready, man. You might have a big at-bat tonight and do your thing." And he did.

Q. Also, what did you take out of Chris's start tonight?
ALEX CORA: That was good stuff today. He did a good job taking pitches and fouling off pitches. But stuff-wise, probably the best in the postseason. And he feels really good, no problems with the belly button. So that's a plus. He'll be okay for the next one.

Q. Just a couple of questions about your bullpen: Joe Kelly, could he have gone another inning? Were you considering that? Was there any consideration about future games and having to kind of keep that in mind? And also can you just go through the seventh and eighth inning and just the decisions that you made?
ALEX CORA: Do I have to? We considered a lot of stuff throughout the game. At one point we were going to take Chris out after four. But then I realized that it's a seven-game series, and for how good our bullpen has been in October, our starters, we need them to go deep into the game. And then he walks Dozier, we went to Barnes. He's been outstanding with traffic, and he's been great in October. He actually did an okay job. His breaking ball wasn't there today, but limited the damage.

Joe was outstanding. His changeup, his fastball, that was good. Knowing that we were going to go to the rover in the 8th, either Rick or Nate; we decided to go with Brasier. It wasn't his best night. But like I said earlier today, Drew and Eduardo, they're going to have to get big outs somewhere, somehow, against lefties in this series, and Eddie did right away. 2-0 fastball up in the zone, gets Bellinger out. We add on and we had it the rest of the game.

I think having Nate and Rick available, it gives us a chance to be more aggressive during the game earlier. They've been amazing in that role, and the fact that they're able to bounce back and give us a start, a quality start, that's what matters. But today was a whole team effort. That was cool to see. A lot of guys, that they struggled towards the end of the season, and they did an outstanding job tonight. That was a very team-oriented win.

Q. Obviously the Nuñez home run gave you a big cushion tonight, but thinking beyond that, you saw what happened last year. Just your thoughts on what he did for you tonight versus the way the season ended last year?
ALEX CORA: I mean, obviously as a baseball man, that was sad to see last year. It's a guy that he changed the complex of the Red Sox when he got traded from San Francisco. He carried this offense and put this team in a different dimension. And he got hurt and only one pitch in the playoffs, and then he was out of it.

Tough offseason for him. We got lucky that he -- like he was out there late in the offseason, and we were able to sign him. And he's been great. He wasn't a hundred percent throughout the season. He struggled defensively, we know that, at second, but he always had a positive attitude. And he's one of the leaders in the clubhouse. For him to show up today and put up a big swing, that's his first World Series swing, it's very gratifying to see him do that.

Q. Were you planning for a season without him at one point?
ALEX CORA: This season? Yeah. We signed him late. We had options and all that. But we knew he was a good player. We knew that offensively he can do all the things, although his running game this year is not the usual. But offensively when he's right, he can back swing the ball, he can drive the ball. And he's been right for a while now.

Q. What is it about Beni that allows him to go in against Clayton Kershaw, three singles, keep doing what he did all season long on a big stage like this? And the top of the order was very productive.
ALEX CORA: Yeah, we're still waiting for those three guys to get hot all together, Betts, Benintendi and Martinez. I think throughout the season they haven't been hot at the same time. And this is a good time for that to happen.

Beni put a good at-bat, stayed on it. Pulled the ball with a man at second and gets the RBI, was able to stay with pitches. He got lucky, too, twice, probably. But he's a good hitter. He hangs in there with lefties. I know the numbers doesn't back that up, but we do feel that he's a good hitter against them. When he's using the whole field, he becomes very dangerous. I know he hasn't driven the ball in a while, he hasn't hit homers in a while, but I like that guy tonight, just to hit the ball all over the place, put pressure on the defense and running the bases and playing good defense.

Q. When you're making decisions in a game like this that you know they'll be second-guessed if they don't work out, is there ever any fear or anxiety that creeps in? And if so, how do you block it out?
ALEX CORA: No, I really don't care if they second-guess me. I prepare. We prepare as a group, and you make decisions. And honestly when I'm done here, I shower, I get on that car, I might get a text and say, "Go to the pharmacy and get some diapers for the kids." That's first-guessing and second-guessing over there.

It's a game, man. I enjoy it. I know that we're in the spotlight here, managers. There's a lot of shows now at night and they're going to dissect every move. I was part of that, so I learned. Those four years working for ESPN taught me a lot, being around Buster and Timmy and all those guys, you know. I learned a lot.

So I really don't -- I know it's going to sound bad, but I really don't care if they second-guess me.

Q. Did Craig pitching the way he did make you feel that much more confident in that he is back? In some ways does him sorting out the pitch-tipping issue make you feel like that maybe he psychologically, that makes him more confident in the rest of his game as well?
ALEX CORA: Mentally it has to be tough when you make quality pitches and guys are taking pitches. We go back to that Game 4 in New York, he had Didi on a 0-2 count, he gets a hit. Gary was down 0-2, and he took some great breaking balls. And then throughout the series with the Astros there were some great takes. I talk about tipping and stealing signs and all that, but there were some really good takes. And all of a sudden his hands are somewhere else, and they're not taking that breaking ball.

So for him, he has to feel good about it. His stuff was great tonight, too. So like I said after Game 5 in Houston, we were very comfortable with Craig Kimbrel and he's going to get the ball in close games.

Q. I was curious Dave, the Dodgers, have had a pretty nice run over the last three weeks, especially managing their matchups, and rolling downhill in getting the other team to get in a reactive mode. I'm curious if you have to struggle to stay out of the reactive mode and get more momentum in your direction, if there was a point tonight where you felt like you were dictating the matchups, to stay out of their line changes, as you call them?
ALEX CORA: I don't know if we're dictating their moves, but we feel that we've got a few guys that can hit lefties and righties. Steve Pearce, for example. They brought in a righty for him, and we've been using Steve throughout the postseason against lefties and righties. So we stay with him. We feel like Raphy can hit lefties and righties. I know they're going to go to that. They trust their bullpen and their matchups, but we trust our guys, too.

You just have to be patient. You have to be patient. It's tough to manage against them. I saw it last year. It's a grind. But when you have talent like we do and we have guys that they can hit lefties or righties, you feel comfortable. You feel comfortable with any matchup and they proved it tonight.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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