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October 20, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Pregame 5 Press Conference

Q. Hi, Alex.

ALEX CORA: What's up, Johnny?

Q. Two questions.

ALEX CORA: How is your vehicle?

Q. Fine, fine.

ALEX CORA: Are you using it?

Q. Not really. I'm waiting until after the playoffs. Take it for a ride.

Two questions, how do you think the team will react today from last night's game? And, secondly, can you talk about Sale?

ALEX CORA: I mean, we play 162 with four teams in the middle of whatever that was called, right, and when you look at the scoreboard in the fourth or fifth inning, it didn't look too promising, and here we are. So we understand it's a big game, but at the same time it's just a game for us. We played the Wild Card game; that's another story, right? That's a different game too.

Obviously, disappointed that we didn't win yesterday, but we were disappointed in Game 1, and then we played two good games. I think overall we played well throughout the series. It's 2-2, but in Game 1 they took advantage of two pitches. Yesterday Altuve took advantage of one, and then the ninth inning happened. If you look at the way we played the whole series, it's been really solid, and if we continue to do that, we'll be in good shape.

With Chris, he threw the ball with conviction towards the end of the last outing. We feel good about it. He worked on a few things. He keeps getting better. We feel good about him being on the mound. He hasn't pitched in Fenway in a while, I think, right? I think the last time was against Tampa. The sun ball, if I'm not mistaken. For him to pitch here, I know he is looking forward for the opportunity, and give us a chance to win.

Q. I was just curious if you did spend any time re-watching some of the video of those calls, if you had any thoughts on, you know, whether or not maybe the inconsistency of the strike zone did affect your pitchers at all?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, we got to get ready for tonight.

Q. Just back to Chris for a second. He was somewhat excited after that last outing. What kind of things did you see?

ALEX CORA: He threw good sliders towards the end. Good sliders.

Q. What would you like to see today from him?

ALEX CORA: Just be on top of them, be aggressive. Obviously, establishing the fastball is always good, but, as you know, his slider is elite. When he is on, his slider, it doesn't matter if he feels good or not, it plays at this level.

So looking forward for him to work ahead and then expand and get some swings and misses, and just keep going and give us a chance to win.

Q. When you use a starter in relief on his throw day, what's sort of the maximum number of pitches you feel like you can get out of him?

ALEX CORA: Very similar to yesterday. You know what, I really don't like to bring them in a tie game or a one-run game. It just felt like yesterday it was a good lane for us right there. Especially at home. It's different on the road than at home. Just got a shut-down inning in the ninth and give us a chance to win the game.

He was a little bit off, too, with his mechanics, which is something that we noticed right away. Obviously, you think about the present, but you think about Game 6, and then you have to be very careful with the way you treat him.

At the end he made pitches. He did make pitches, and it just didn't work out, but I think kind of like right there you don't want too much traffic either, so that's kind of like where we're at.

Q. Is every guy different?

ALEX CORA: Every guy is different. That guy is different. Yeah, he is different.

Q. It's not like you get to 20 and you say, okay, I got to look for a way to get him out of the game?

ALEX CORA: Yeah. He is just -- athletic-wise he is different than all of them. So you feel actually -- it's funny because his history will tell you differently, right, because of all the injuries, but he just is at another level, and he is very honest about it. If he feels good, he feels good. It's not the, "oh, I'll give you one inning today," just to say it.

Q. It felt a little bit like a momentum shift last night in the ninth inning. Do you feel the need to give the guys a pep talk in the locker room after that?

ALEX CORA: No, no, no. Like I said, motivation is win two more games and get into the World Series. We will meet now with the hitters, like we do every day in the season to go over the game plan, and then see what we're going to do as a group against their pitching staff. No, they understand. They understand.

It's funny because now I think about it, everybody makes a big deal about that meeting that we had in Game 3 after Nate pitched all those innings, right, and just talking about Nate. I think out of that meeting the thing they really like is when I told them, tomorrow no BP, show and go. They're, like, oh, yeah, hell yeah. It wasn't about Nate or whatever.

No, no, but we're good. We don't do that. Obviously we talk. You walk around and see where they're at. There's no better motivation than winning two more games and getting to the dance, to the show. They understand.

Q. The regular season is obviously a marathon. The postseason is a little more of a sprint.

ALEX CORA: It is a sprint.

Q. Does it change your approach in that way in terms of the motivation factor?

ALEX CORA: Of course. Of course. They see it on a daily basis the way the group goes about their business, the way we manage the game. They see it. You know, they see the urgency, which I think they really like.

Q. You look at what you and Dusty and even Dave Roberts have had to kind of navigate the postseason just with really fluid pitching plans. How much more challenging is it to have to do that as opposed to a year when maybe you have a really strong idea of who your three or four starters will be in a given series?

ALEX CORA: I mean, from our end, you know, I cannot talk about their teams, right? We felt like we had really good starting pitching in '18, and we still had to be creative, and we had to be creative with the bullpen.

So it's something about October. I always say it. It's different. It's different. The off-days really help you to be creative and be aggressive. Like yesterday, somebody asked me about Nick, right? Oh, you don't want him to go through the lineup three times? No. It's just the lane that we had, it was good for J.T. Lefty, righty, lefty. You start managing that way knowing that you have Whit, and you have one inning with Nate, you know?

Hey, man, we all want the starter to go seven. You know, we would love that. It's a lot easier for a manager and for the pitching coach and for everybody else to navigate a game that way, but obviously, the circumstances, the urgency, knowing that if you win four games, you advance, it pushes you to be creative, to be aggressive, and try to get or maximize every matchup.

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