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October 20, 2021

Alex Cora

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox

Postgame 5 Press Conference

Astros 9, Red Sox 1

Q. Alex, can you first talk about the Red Sox's situation and then can you talk about Sale and Valdez, the games they threw.

ALEX CORA: We got to win two games to go to the World Series. That's the bottom line. Obviously, reset tomorrow and get ready for the next day.

I think their guy was amazing. He was throwing harder than usual. The ball was moving. We didn't hit the ball hard at all. I think we had two fly balls, if I'm not mistaken, and a home run, right? Credit to him. His sinker was unreal tonight. Unreal. You tip your hat to him and you move forward.

Our guy was great, and he threw the ball great. In that inning the walk, then that play happened. Bregman hits a ground ball, and first-pitch fastball, the big guy goes the other way, and then they score two, or whatever it was. Yeah. I think overall for everything that has been going on the last month, right, velocity was up, the slider was good, the changeup was great. He stepped up, and we just didn't get enough outs as a group, and they scored nine.

But I'm very proud of him. He threw the ball well.

Q. Alex, when it comes to your offense, one, are you looking to make any changes to the lineup?


Q. And, two, I know it's not just one person, but Hunter Renfroe's struggles seem to stand above everyone else's. What have you seen or not seen from him in his results and his approach?

ALEX CORA: I think tonight 2-0 count he tried to do too much on that pitch, right? We had two runners on, and just the fastball -- actually, it was a good pitch to hit; it was up in the zone, one of the few. He flew open, and hit the ball on the ground, and rolled over. It's one of those that obviously we didn't like it, but this is a guy that throughout the season he has done an amazing job, and he has played great defense for us. He has been good offensively.

We'll keep rolling them out there, and tomorrow is a good day to reset. Talk about what's going on, what they've done the last few days and make adjustments. We've got the right guy on the mound for Game 6. This is a guy that he has been amazing for all of us.

And we know we can hit. Two bad games doesn't mean that all of a sudden we're not a good offensive team. It's just a matter of regroup, make some adjustments and attack from the first pitch on.

Q. Obviously, Sale had been great through five innings, including the eight-pitch fifth. That said, with him getting to the third time through the order, how much thought had you given to having Brasier warming for the first batter was there a debate about having him come out for the sixth, and can you talk about kind of batter by batter through the first four, including the decision to get to Alvarez?

ALEX CORA: He was throwing the ball great. There was some weak contact throughout the night. He was in command. The walk put us in that place, but then we didn't make a play. Then Bregman hits a comebacker to the pitcher, and Alvarez hits a hit. Sometimes we get caught up too much on third time through the order. He was throwing the ball great. The stuff was really good. He was throwing 97 with a good slider.

I understand how people think, but there were two lefties coming up too in that pocket, right? Brantley, who he did an amazing job early on, and we had Alvarez. Still he is who he is, but he is Chris Sale. He is a lefty. He has made a living getting lefties out.

You got to tip your hat to the kid, to the guy. He didn't try to do too much on that first pitch with man on second and third, and he goes the other way. I was getting ready for the guy after Alvarez. We went there, and they put the ball in play, we didn't make plays, and that happened.

Q. Coming into the game, what was sort of your expectation for what Chris could give you? Did you have a number in mind?

ALEX CORA: Just a regular start, yeah.

Q. Was five outside of what you thought or inside of what you thought?

ALEX CORA: I mean, just give us a chance to win. The game was going to dictate what we -- the game will dictate how we manage it, and the way he was throwing the ball, we felt very comfortable with him.

Q. You guys have overcome a lot -- COVID, everything else. Just your thoughts on trying to overcome this 3-2 deficit with two games coming up on the road.

ALEX CORA: You take it one day at a time, of course, cliché-wise. We got to win the next game, and it's not the first time we've been in this situation that is a must-win. We did it in 162, and we did it in the Wild Card game. Instead of seeing that there's two games, let's take care of game one. We've done it before. You take care of that one, and then you move forward to the next one.

We'll be ready for the next one. We'll be ready. We'll make adjustments and play better.

Q. You mentioned 162 and the Wild Card Game and so on, and it seemed like there were other times where your season was going to end. What is it about this group that was able to stay alive and how do you apply that coming up?

ALEX CORA: We learned a lot during the season, right, the first three games of the season that it wasn't going to be easy. You just prepare and play the game, and then after that you prepare again for the next day, and you keep moving forward.

Obviously, here it's a lot different because if we don't win the next game, the season is over. But like you said, we've been in this situation before, so nothing is going to change. In the next 24 hours we'll take a look at a few things. We learn from our mistakes and what they do in the last two days, and we'll be ready for the next one.

Q. What do you see, if anything, to address over the last -- that you saw in the last two days? Good pitching. You can't do much about it, right?

ALEX CORA: They made some adjustments. They talk about it too, right? There's a few things they're doing that they didn't do in the first three games, and we just got to be ready. One of the things that we do, you know, we learn a lot from what happened in the past, right? You know, this is a series that teams make adjustments. We have to make adjustments against them too pitching-wise.

I think offensively there's a few things that they've done the last probably two and a half games that we got beat in certain situations, and we got to be ready for that.

Q. Building off a little bit of what's been asked before, are there specific things that you do when you are trying to shake a team out of a bit of a slump? Are there any things that you do to change the mindset?

ALEX CORA: I don't see it as a slump. It's two games. Obviously, it's a series, but, I mean, we've been really good offensively the whole month.

Tonight that kid was amazing. He was really good, but we will keep working and keep talking. We'll be ready as a group, and we'll be ready for the next one. Let's keep it that way.

Q. What was the delay about with the umpire as you were pointing to center?

ALEX CORA: There was something in the wall in center field. It looked like a light or whatever. Somebody noticed it in the dugout. It wasn't a big deal, but just to let them know that that was there. I don't know if the hitter was able to see it, whatever. We just let them know.

Q. In the fourth inning it looked like Chris really dialed it up for those last two strikeouts. What did you see from him at that point in to get out of that jam?

ALEX CORA: Velo, a good slider and good changeup. I think mechanic-wise this was his best for, like, a month and a half, and I think velocity was good. Location was good. Fastball inside to righties was really good. That's what we saw today.

Q. Alex, the drop at first base, obviously, a play Kyle needs to make, but do you attribute part of that, at least, to Altuve kind of forcing the issue taking off on the pitch and --

ALEX CORA: Probably. He is hard, and probably he looked at him and that's why probably he dropped it. I haven't asked him. Just let him be for the rest of the game, and then you talk about it, but most likely Altuve just kept going and probably he looked up, and then all of a sudden the throw was right there.

Q. How impressed were you with the approach from Alvarez tonight against Chris?

ALEX CORA: That was really good. We misfired I think twice. The second at-bat, 3-1 slider, he swung and missed I think it was or took it, whatever, and then he got a fastball, and he goes the other way. Whatever his plan was or the approach was, was really good. Was really good. Just stay on pitches against a tall, lanky, he's got elbows, knees, and everything, and different angle, for him to hang in there, that was really good.

Q. I know you like the left-on-left matchup, but given Alvarez's success the first two trips and first base open, was there any thought about a walk there?

ALEX CORA: No, no, we didn't think about walking him there. We thought about making pitches. We were supposed to go up, and he left it over the plate, and he went the other way.

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