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October 11, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Postgame 4 Press Conference

Red Sox 6, Rays 5

Q. First off, how proud are you of this team, and how big were the six outs that Whitlock was able to get?

ALEX CORA: First things first, I want to congratulate the Rays for an outstanding season. What they're doing on a daily basis as an organization is eye opening. They've been very consistent throughout the years, and I know the season didn't end the way they wanted to, but with time. They should put their head up, and it was an amazing season, what they did this year.

For us, I want to congratulate everybody from top to bottom, from Mr. Henry all the way to Dominican Summer League because this is an organizational accomplishment. Not too many people gave us a chance from the get-go, but we believed.

We always said we had a good baseball team that had some holes, and we still have some holes, but at the end, for how bad it looked sometimes, we're still here. We're still in the dance. We're still in the tournament, and we're moving on to the ALCS.

It's a great accomplishment. Those men in that clubhouse and everybody that has to do with the operation on a daily basis should be proud because everybody was part of this, and for us to advance to the next one, everybody contributed.

About the game, amazing game. Whit was amazing again. That tells you a lot about this organization, what we did in the off-season and what we tried to accomplish throughout the season.

Instagram gets a shoutout. I'm glad that some of the scouts have Instagram and saw him throwing a bullpen. But it was amazing. It was a great day. I'm very proud of everybody.

Q. Alex, can you go over how the run scored in the ninth, setting up by the bunt.

ALEX CORA: Yeah, a lot of people were talking about the bunt, giving outs away, but we didn't need to score four runs in the ninth. We only needed to score one. Christian did a good job getting on base. Christian did a good job putting the bunt down. Travis did a good job putting the ball in play. It's something we always talk about.

Then Kiké put the ball in the air. Old school baseball right there. Fundamental baseball, and we won the ALDS playing good fundamental baseball.

Q. I just want to go right into that. You played mostly clean baseball lately. Is that the result of a speech, a practice, just a coming together? How would you put that into words?

ALEX CORA: We kept working. I know a lot of people questioned our coaching staff and what we do on a daily basis, but we keep working. We keep working. Regardless of the results, we were out there taking ground balls. Some other teams do it differently than us, but we work the way we work, and we never gave up on them, and they never gave up on themselves.

So we just keep working. Sometimes it's going to look great. Sometimes it's going to look bad, but we're not going to stop working. We have a tremendous coaching staff. Carlos Febles, Ramon Vasquez, Andy Fox. They've been working so hard with these kids since day one in Spring Training defensively.

I know some people question how they do it, how they go about their business, but today was a testament of what we've done since day one, and I'm very proud of everybody on this coaching staff.

Q. How big were those innings from Eddie in the beginning?

ALEX CORA: Outstanding. He made some adjustments. We learned a lot last week from their approach and how they were able to attack certain zones and stay back in certain pitches, and we made adjustments, and today you see the results.

Q. How much do you think that meant to him? He's been kind of looking for a postseason moment, and what he was able to do tonight?

ALEX CORA: It was very similar to what he did in L.A., right? We burned our starter yesterday trying to get the win and knowing that Eddie was capable, and he's talented. The same thing he did in L.A. except the manager took him out earlier in this one instead of letting him have two on and facing a righty.

He was amazing. Good fastball, good change-up, good cutter. That lineup lately against lefties has been really, really good. They've been hitting the ball hard, starting with Randy. He's been amazing. Franco from the right side, he's very dangerous.

Eddie, he was great. I'm very, very happy for him. Everybody knows what happened last year and the up and downs of this season, and for him to go out there and give us a chance to win, it means a lot.

Q. Alex, you said before the game that this team is always going to hit, that you never worry about that. Everybody wants to hit, though. Every team wants to hit. Why are you so assured that no matter what, the Red Sox are going to hit?

ALEX CORA: We've got some talented players. If you start looking at our lineup, the DH, he's pretty solid. The shortstop, he's probably the best offensive shortstop in the Big Leagues. The third baseman, he's up there with the best offensively. Kyle Schwarber, he's on an on-base machine. He's great. Kiké has found his rhythm. Our right fielder hit, what, 30 and drove in 98.

So if you break it down that way, you look at the talent that we have, yeah, we should hit. But I think everybody gets caught up on the whole team, and sometimes they don't feel that way, but we're good offensively.

Q. Kevin Cash was talking about how they just couldn't strike you guys out. They see themselves as a strikeout staff, and you guys wouldn't do it. How big was that?

ALEX CORA: It's huge because at one point during the season, we were chasing 38 percent of the pitches and we were swinging and missing at a horrible rate. Even ten days ago, when we went to Baltimore and then we went to Washington, we were striking out a lot. We were chasing a lot of pitches.

I think playing them 19 times, it helped. It helped. We played the Yankees. We knew them. They know us. Same thing with them. We did a good job staying humble, staying humble. I think that's the word. Stay humble. Stay humble with your approach. Don't try to do too much, and good things happen.

Q. You looked a little overcome with emotion when you were celebrating out on the field, and I'm sure that's sort of always the case when you clinch and move on, but given how tense this one was at the end, what was that emotion? Was it just relief or excitement?

ALEX CORA: A lot of things. A lot of things. Just proud of the group. Proud of everybody here. Happy for my family that they can enjoy this. Happy for Boston. It was an amazing day. That was loud. That was actually better than yesterday.

When something that we envision before the season, we envision in the off-season, and the fact that we are one series away from going to the World Series, it means a lot to this organization.

Q. It seemed like Devers' name is kind of often left off the list when you're talking about some of the game's best young stars, but he's constantly joining the list of a lot of MLB greats. Can you just talk about what he's done, especially coming up big in postseason spots.

ALEX CORA: This kid since 2017, it's all he knows, right? Playoffs and be good in the playoffs. When we played him in '17, he was always smiling. There was no pressure, and he put great at-bats.

Even the last game here, he hit that inside-the-park home run against Ken Giles, I think it was, and it seemed like he was born to play in October. He did it in '18, and then this year that last game of the regular season kind of like set the tone for the team to keep going and keep pushing, and what he did today, that was a great swing. He was under control the whole night, put good at-bats, played great defense.

He's only 24. 25 in ten days, I think, right? I always said that there's a lot of young players, very talented players, but this kid, he's still young, been there, done that. He has a World Series ring. He's dominated October, and we're very proud of him.

Q. Back to Eddie for a second. On April 2nd, he started the season at the alt site with the arm issue, and that day as soon as he got his work in, he jumped in the car and hurried up to get back here to be with the teammates on Opening Day. Now doing what he was able to do, what do you think of that moment back in April?

ALEX CORA: They love him in that clubhouse. He's been here for a while. He's been through a lot as a player with his injuries, and last year with health, and he's one of the favorites. He's grown to become a leader too. You see him, the way he goes about his business, the way he approaches the game, the way he prepares now physically.

You see the difference. If you put videos of Eddie two years ago and now, physically he's another guy. He understands his strengths and weaknesses, and he keeps making adjustments. Four days ago, whatever it was, he got humble in a sense. I mean, 1 2/3 in Game 1 of the ALDS, and he worked hard between starts to get to this point, and he was amazing tonight.

Q. Just with the series Kiké had, how happy were you that he was the one at the plate with a chance to win the game here?

ALEX CORA: We were battling at the end to make decisions. Adam was going to be coming in, so we weren't sure to run for Christian because of the running game and all that stuff. That's why we bunted, and we kept Christian out there. At that point, we had to run for him in case there's a fly ball.

We felt very comfortable with him. He was putting good at-bats after good at-bats, and he did an amazing job against a tough pitching staff, and we're very proud of him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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