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October 8, 2021

Alex Cora

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Tropicana Field

Boston Red Sox

Postgame 2 Press Conference

Red Sox 14, Rays 6

Q. Thanks, Alex. How do you describe the process by which J.D. got ready to play this game?

ALEX CORA: I mean, credit to the medical staff. They've been relentless since Sunday. Of course, you know, he worked hard to get to this point, but what they did the last, whatever, 48 hours, whatever it is, to make him feel confident to play, it's a testament to who they are, man. Those guys, they work so hard, countless hours. It's been nonstop, and all the credit goes to them.

And, of course, J.D., he worked hard to get to this point, and during BP, he was in between. He wasn't sure, and he took one round, and he took off, and he was, like, hey, Jefe, let's go. I'm like, okay, perfect. Let's go.

The medical staff, they've been amazing. They've been amazing.

Q. Alex, you've talked so many times about just your confidence in this team just how good you feel about this team, your confidence in this team. Being down the way that you were after Sale gave up those runs, what were you feeling in the dugout that was able to propel you to tie this up?

ALEX CORA: It was a 3-0 game, so we've been behind 3-0 plenty of times, so we put a good inning in the first one. I mean, we hit the ball hard yesterday. So offensively we're getting to who we are, and it was just a 3-0 game in the second inning. That's the way we saw it. Obviously, you know, we had to make adjustments, and Tanner came in and did an outstanding job, but offensively it was like, hey, don't panic. We put two in the first, and we still got eight innings, and they did an amazing job the whole night.

Q. Alex, can you talk about what you have seen from Houck in the last six days? I think he has retired 30 of 31 hitters in those three games.

ALEX CORA: Great decision taking him in the perfect game, right, so we can use him later? He has been amazing. He has been amazing. The fastball, the slider, the split, he doesn't panic. We've been using him a lot, and we have to be careful with that, but today was the perfect day for him to go out there and help us to win a ballgame.

He is the same guy regardless if they're hitting the ball all over the place or he is getting people out. He just -- he stays in the moment. He doesn't get ahead of himself or he mopes around when he gets hit. He just wants to keep going and get people out, and what he did -- what he has done this week has been amazing. And now, obviously, he is going to be down for a few days, but today that was huge for us. It was huge.

And, you know, he has grown. He is getting better and better and better. Everybody talks about third time through the order, everybody talks about facing lefties and that's a good lineup over there, and they had some good left-handed hitters, and he did an amazing job.

Q. Alex, what do you think has happened with Chris these last two starts?

ALEX CORA: I think command. That's it. Arozarena hunts a first pitch, and Franco stays inside. He gets the strikeout. He walked Nelson, and the 0-2 fastball was above the zone, and he caught up to it. But I don't think, hey, man, we count on this guy. He is going to be a big part of what we're trying to accomplish, and we'll get him right. We'll get him right.

Q. So it's nothing where physically he has hit some sort of wall or anything?

ALEX CORA: I don't think so. I don't believe so. It's a good-hitting team. They took advantage of certain pitches, and they put some good swings on it. Yandy goes the other way, and then the grand slam on the fastball that was above the strike zone. Sometimes teams they game-plan on people, and then they do a good job with it. That 0-2 pitch was above the zone, and he got to it.

Q. Alex, if you would be so kind to answer in both English and Spanish. Alex, you have talked a lot about and you have seen what Kike Hernandez can do in the postseason. What is it like to see it now in your favor?

ALEX CORA: It's great. Yesterday he actually expanded throughout the game and today he made a conscious effort to be on time and hunt pitches in the zone. One of the things when he runs into trouble is when he is ahead in the count, he expands, and when he expands, and today he did a great job being on time, stay short to the ball. This is a place that if you hit it -- hit fly balls, they're going to get it, but it seems like the line drives, they just keep going, and he was amazing.

(Answering in Spanish).

Q. Alex, given that it's his first postseason, how much is kind of Alex Verdugo's energy and kind of the way he carried himself almost keep him from getting --

ALEX CORA: He is a good hitter. He is a good hitter, and towards the end of the season he got locked in. I think in Washington he had that big game the last day, and it has carried over. When he is using the big part of the field, good things happen, and he has been dominating the strike zone too. So he made some great plays in left field today, and he might throw a bullpen tomorrow.

Q. Does his enthusiasm kind of carry over to other people?

ALEX CORA: Say what?

Q. Does his enthusiasm kind of contagious?

ALEX CORA: Sometimes. Sometimes.

Q. (Multiples questions in Spanish).

Alex, considering you only got an inning from Chris yesterday and what Eddie did yesterday, how good does it feel to come out of here with a split?

ALEX CORA: It feels great. We got some capable guys. We got some good pitching too, and we've been throwing the ball well for a while. The bullpen has been amazing. You know, Brasier bouncing back the way he has thrown the ball. Robles, I forgot to say it in Spanish, actually. Robles has been great.

We're in a good spot. We got some guys that could go multiple innings. It's not perfect. I mean, the plan was for Chris and for Eddie to go deep in the game, and then make mix and match, but what Nick did yesterday and Tanner did today, we expect that from them. You know, we know we can actually pitch with them. We can get people out too.

So it feels great. Now we know that at least we play two games in Boston. Monday we'll decide if we wear different uniforms, I guess, and we'll go from there.

MODERATOR: Alex, thanks so much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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