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October 27, 2018

Alex Cora

Los Angeles, California - pregame 4

Q. Just kind of what was the mood of your team right after the game ended and how does that carry over into what their mindset might be coming into today?
ALEX CORA: We actually talked about it last night for the first time after the game. We didn't get together to celebrate. Usually that's what you do. I don't have team meetings and all that stuff. I told them how proud I was. That was epic. To play baseball for seven hours and whatever minutes and to grind from pitch 1 all the way to the last pitch, that was awesome. And made a point of letting Nate know that that was outstanding.

In the playoffs emotions get in and I think the word I used, I lived it last year with Houston and this year there's been some powerful moments. And that was a powerful moment, just watching Nate compete on that stage with no margin for error and dominate, that was cool to see.

Q. You had some options today with ERod or Drew or maybe even Sale. You said it was going to be a lefty. How did you zero in on ERod and what do you expect?
ALEX CORA: I expect him to give us a chance to win. His stuff is trending up. I know he's rested, 94, 95, good changeup. He was part of the equation throughout the season and then he got hurt. Then he came back, he has his ups and downs. And he came out of the bullpen a few times in the playoffs and he's been good.

We expect him to go out there. He's a good matchup for us, we feel, as long as he's the usage that we like, he'll be okay.

Q. Does Eduardo's leg issue date back to when he hurt it, when he hurt the ankle?
ALEX CORA: Yeah, the ankle, it's not the knees.

Q. So it's not related to last year, though?

Q. There's some damage there?
ALEX CORA: Just twisted it, and he's sore. But at this point who's not? Just happened that yesterday on that dirt ball he got hit hard, I guess, and he twisted it a little bit, and he has to sprint to first and then whatever and he was on the ground the whole time (laughter).

Q. So when you brought him up to pinch-hit, do you feel that he has that flare for the dramatic?
ALEX CORA: No, no, no. It was more about the matchup. We know Baez against lefties has been good, and actually like yesterday for the first time in a while, Rafy, the game kind of sped up on him. He was chasing pitches up in the zone. And you could see he was frustrated. The Jansen at-bat, you could see he was swinging harder, harder, harder.

So we were looking for somebody to make contact in that situation. As you know, Eduardo will make contact way up there or way down there. So we got a fly ball and Bellinger made a good throw and it didn't work out.

Q. With some of the strain on your pitching staff, do you approach the game at all trying to be more aggressive offensively both in the way you set your lineup and maybe some things you do during the game to try to give those guys some cushion with runs?
ALEX CORA: No, we are always looking to play fast. We like to run. We take pride on advancing 90 feet. It's not going to change.

As far as the pitching staff, if Eddie gives us a quality start or if he goes five, we're fine. Our righties are good. The only guy that is not available is Nate, obviously. Although he feels that he can go out.

But, yeah, we feel that we got 27 outs, probably more. So we're not tight as far as like the pitching staff.

Q. How was Nathan's usage? How does it impact his availability for Game 5, as well?
ALEX CORA: We'll find out, like I said last night. After the game he stayed there getting treatment. We had breakfast today, team breakfast, family breakfast in the hotel and he said he's ready to go tonight. He told the wrong person that. He hasn't approached that to me.

He's a strong guy. I don't know, he maintained his stuff throughout. But we've got to be careful, too, we know that there's a Game 4 and a Game 5, and if necessary Game 6. So we'll manage and we'll maneuver his workload accordingly.

Q. You said outside of him, so Sale and Price would also be possibly available tonight?
ALEX CORA: Not Chris. Not Chris.

Q. If you can take one more Nate question: You said last night you guys kept checking with him. Was there an inning where you thought he was going to say enough and he still went out there? How did that go each inning?
ALEX CORA: When he struck out Turner, so he comes in, and I'm like -- I went in with him. I said, "How do you feel?" He said, "I'm ready to bunt Bogey over." And I said, "Okay, you feel great." Actually at one point he said, "Let me finish this."

That was going to be his last inning, regardless, because of the pitch count. But he was fine the whole day. With Nate, he talked to you guys last night, I saw the interview. It was like nothing. This kid is amazing, amazing. You give him the ball, he'll pitch. You don't use him, he won't complain. You take him out in the seventh inning, his first outing in Minnesota, he's like, "That's it?" "Yeah, that's it." "Okay, cool."

He'll prepare. You know him, he prepares. He gets after it in between starts, in between games, and that's the reason he's been so good in October.

Q. The rules are obviously the rules but AL teams are built a certain way to accommodate the DH, and now you have to bend over and turn yourself into a pretzel the last two games trying to manipulate your outfield. I think you've made seven outfield changes in the game last night. You ended up having to take Martinez out for a pinch-runner, which you wouldn't have had to do, and then today you've got to make some decisions already. Do you think this is fair to American League teams or should this be standardized at some point?
ALEX CORA: No, somebody asked me about the Wild Card early in the season, about winning 100 and having to play the Wild Card. We knew the rules coming into the tournament. And we knew the rules coming into the World Series. The only difference from my end this year is only three games in the National League park; last year was four.

We're not complaining. We're versatile. We had to make moves, just like they have to make moves. It doesn't bother me, it really doesn't. I really don't care.

Q. I think Benintendi in the first game swung behind Mookie Betts when he was on the steal. Instead of bunting, which is not really done nowadays, why is it not done more often, sacrificing a strike but swinging in order to delay the mechanics to get a steal?
ALEX CORA: Do we have time? I mean, we bunted yesterday. I was trying to buy an at-bat for Mookie with men in scoring position or Xander. That was the reason we bunted Christian. I don't know, there's a lot of studies, a lot of information that goes into decisions like that. And like I said, there's not enough time to explain it here. But that's something that when we have to we'll do it, but most of the time we feel that we'll take our shots, three shots to score runs.

It's not a given that when you bunt a guy over, that guy is going to score. But like I said, if we feel that we can buy an at-bat to one of our best players to put us in scoring position, we will do it.

Q. A couple of days ago I think you talked about the need to get the top of the order really going. How much of getting -- putting Beni back in the order, No. 2 spot, is part of that and how much of it is matchup-related, trying to get Mookie and Bogey and J.D. all going?
ALEX CORA: No, it's matchup-related. He put up good at-bats against lefties early in the World Series. We feel that it's a better matchup. And then we got Jackie for the hard throwers later on, just those, yeah.

But, yeah, we need our top of the order to get going. You didn't see that often. Halfway through the season there was a game they went 0-for- 23, Xander, J.D. and Mookie. So yesterday it happened. Give credit to their pitchers. We expanded the zone a little bit. We stayed swinging at pitches on the edge of the zone. Hopefully tonight we get back to looking at pitches in the middle of zone and do damage.

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