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October 21, 2021

Alex Cora

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Boston Red Sox

Workout Day Press Conference

Q. Good morning, Alex.

ALEX CORA: What's up, Johnny?

Q. Are you in Houston already?


Q. Oh, okay.

ALEX CORA: I'm in Caguas.

Q. This team has a history of bouncing back. Do you think they will bounce back this weekend?

ALEX CORA: That's the goal. Obviously, we are where we are, but we just got to take it -- you can say all the cliches, right? One pitch at a time. One play at a time. One inning at a time. One game at a time. One day at a time. It doesn't matter. You name it, we have them. Doesn't matter. We're going out there and play a good baseball game tomorrow, and then play another good baseball game in two days.

Q. One more cliche you missed. Your backs are against the wall.

ALEX CORA: Say what?

Q. Your backs are against the wall.

ALEX CORA: Yeah. I mean, we're down 3-2, so we use that one too.

Q. Can you talk about Nate going in Game 6?

ALEX CORA: We feel good about him. He has been throwing the ball well. He is throwing the ball well down there. I think we'll make a few adjustments with their lineups. And we're rested, the bullpen is rested, so we'll do everything possible tomorrow to win that game, and then we'll move forward to the next one.

Q. Will Plawecki catch Nate?

ALEX CORA: Yeah, he is catching tomorrow.

Q. Alex, in terms of approach with runners in scoring position over the last couple of days, obviously, you guys have been very good, very locked in, as has been discussed at some length for those six games. What are you seeing the last couple of games?

ALEX CORA: Yesterday we didn't have too many chances, right? We didn't have too many chances yesterday. The night before there were a few at-bats that changed that game. We had the lead. We had chances to add on, and we did not. I've been saying it all along. During the playoffs, it's not about getting RBIs or driving the ball out of the ballpark. It's about doing everything possible to win the game, and I'm not saying we're not doing that, but it felt like halfway through Game 4, the approach was a little bit different. There were some empty fly balls, empty at-bats, and that cannot happen in the playoffs.

Here every pitch counts. Every at-bat counts. Every run that you add on when you have the lead, it means a lot, so we have to make sure to be relentless in the strike zone. I saw an article by Strommy. He used some word that -- I don't think we have it in Spanish, but whatever that means, we'll be ready for him. We know they were going to make adjustments. They've been relentless getting ahead. We faced some other pitching staff that they've been relentless working ahead, so we'll make our adjustments and get them out of their comfort zone the same way they got us out of our comfort zone.

Q. Along those lines, in terms of their offensive approach, you're well familiar with the talent and depth of their lineup, but how difficult are they as a group to game plan for? How thin is the margin for error, especially with fastballs?

ALEX CORA: I do believe we've thrown the ball well throughout the whole series. The two pitches to Altuve that changed both games, and then it seems like we haven't been able to stop their fast break offense, right? When they get going, they get going. They don't stop swinging. That's something we recognize.

You see the splits throughout the season. When men are in scoring position for X or Y reason, they become Hall of Famers as a team. They're average with nobody on, but when they're in position, they're Hall of Famers. We have to make sure we bring it back to earth. We stop what they're doing. We have to execute pitches. There are certain guys that, they're not going to beat us tomorrow, and there are other guys that have to step up for them, and they have to do the damage.

I think we've done overall an okay job. We haven't been able to stop that big inning, but, like I said, we need to stop their fast break offense when men are in scoring position. Making them humans. Not Hall of Famers with men in scoring position.

Q. Alex, I noticed the majority of the offense that you guys have gotten has come on home runs. I wanted to get your thoughts on maybe what you guys need to do to get the line moving more, in times where you aren't hitting it out of the park?

ALEX CORA: Home runs have come with traffic, right, except the one yesterday, so I think we've done a good job getting on base. Well, early on, right? I mean, to hit three grand slams, a lot of people got on base before the swing, right?

Going back to what I said, we need to be relentless in the strike zone. If they're going to take us out of the comfort zone, we will get them out of their comfort zone now. It's a game of adjustments. It's an off day that we'll use to our benefit. I know they're going to pay attention and see what happened yesterday and the last few days and continue their attack, and now we have to make adjustments and be ready for them.

Q. Alex, aside from Plawecki, do you expect any lineup adjustments?

ALEX CORA: No, no. Unless somebody shows up today with a back spasm or something, didn't sleep well or something. We'll probably align the same guys.

Q. How hard is it to fight that in the playoffs, you know, when you are dealing with -- you were coming off of a six-game stretch that was historic, and then you now have had two games that were not historic.

ALEX CORA: I mean, it's the nature of the business, right? It's one of those that it happens over 162 games, but here everybody pays attention to the small sample size. It's four games, five games. I always said that in the playoffs the difference between hitting .300 and .200 is one swing, right? You go 2 for 10, you hit .200. You went 3 for 10, then you had a great series. No. You got lucky with one swing, and you hit .300. I think it's the quality of the at-bats. It's just the grinding the at-bats.

Like I said, it's one of those -- I was telling one of the guys today, and we felt it this year for the first time. I felt it as manager. When Hermann was throwing the no-hitter, right, it felt like you were chasing hits, chasing hits, chasing hits, and then Dugie hits the home run, and then it was like chasing good at-bats. We scored five, and we won the game. That's what we're trying to accomplish here. It's kind of like if you are going to make an out, make it a quality at-bat. The more quality at-bats, the better it's going to be.

We've done it before. We did it for six days in a row or six games in a row, so we can do it. Of course, we're two more days in this series.

Q. Can you go through the lineup and kind of the tendencies, whether they're going good or bad, is more contagious than a normal lineup, because it seems like when certain guys -- if the core guys are hitting it, it kind of falls in the line with the rest of the group, and when they're not, it kind of goes into slumps quickly.

ALEX CORA: I think that happens everywhere, in every lineup, right? I think, although the Braves, Freddy was 0 for 8, and struck out seven times, and they won two games. I don't know. It's just the nature of the game. I think at this stage other guys have to step up. That's the bottom line. It's not all the time the big boys.

I think we did a good job throughout the season. Especially early. That bottom part of the lineup did their part, and they got on base. We did it against the Rays. Vasqi with the at-bats, and we did it early in the series. It's two games. Actually, it's a game and a half because the beginning of Game 4 was a good one for us. Like I said, they made adjustments. They've done some things. We'll be ready for tomorrow.

Q. Alex, J.D. touched on this last night that pretty much everyone on this roster has had something to prove this year, and he thought that was maybe one of the reasons you guys have had success in difficult situations. Do you see that as being the case, and is that a benefit going into a situation like this?

ALEX CORA: I think the experience of 162 and the experience of the Wild Card Game is going to help us tomorrow. Actually, like I said, they were very uncomfortable. In this case it's not uncomfortable. You just go in, and if you have to use the whole staff, you use it to get to the next day, and then whatever happens in Game 7, we'll figure out. Maybe the roof has a leak, and it rains, and then we can reset our pitching staff for another day.

The way I see it, we don't have to prove people wrong. We just have to prove ourselves that, yeah, we belong here, and we've done it the whole season. We talk about it. We have a good baseball team, and when we play good baseball, we win baseball games. We'll be ready for tomorrow. We've been there. We've gone there, and we won three in a row at one point in the playoffs not too long ago and we faced some great pitchers, right? We celebrated there. So, like I said, our goal is to go tomorrow and put a whole baseball game, win and move on to the next one, and we do the same thing, and we'll be in the World Series if we do that.

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