How Alex Cora Guided the Red Sox to a World Series Title
Photo Credit - Carlos Giusti
After a promising 2017 regular season where John Farrell led the Boston Red Sox to an American League East championship, the Houston Astros the Red Sox in the first round in four games. The disappointing end to a season lead to Jon Farrell’s termination, and the hiring of rookie manager Alex Cora.
The 43-year-old Puerto Rican played for the Red Sox from 2005-2008 and won the World Series with Boston in 2007. Before taking over with the Red Sox, Cora served as the bench coach for the Astros team that knocked Boston out of the playoffs the season before and won the World Series in 2017.
Cora’s management lead to a spark of life in the Red Sox clubhouse, as the team played with a sense of enjoyment and style. Cora led the team to a hot start, in his first three games managing against the New York Yankees, the Red Sox won the series 2-1 along with a resounding 14-1 victory to kick off the series.
The skipper continued to lead the Red Sox to dominance throughout the season, ‘doing damage’ to anyone they faced. The Red Sox reaffirmed their grasp on the rivalry against the Yankees, as they swept the Bronx Bombers in a four-game series in August—where Cora saw his first career ejection.
The Red Sox finished with a franchise-best 108-54 record in Cora’s rookie season. He led the Red Sox through the playoffs, starting off with an American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox beat the Yankees in four games, only losing one game at home.
Boston then moved on to the American League Championship Series against the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. The Red Sox disposed of the Astros with ease as they beat Houston in five games, losing only Game 1 at home—where Cora got ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
The Cora led Red Sox proceeded to the World Series in the manager’s first year, and won the series in five games, only losing Game 3 at Dodger Stadium in 18 innings. The final inning saw ace starter Chris Sale take the mound and strike out the Dodgers batters in order to secure the 5-1 victory, along with the World Series trophy.
Cora’s handling of the bullpen is one of the best highlights of the 2018 season. By keeping Sale fit for the playoffs, he was able to shed light onto the rest of the bullpen for stars to emerge. In the playoffs, the use of starters in relief is a strategy unheard of in the MLB but proved to be an important factor in the Red Sox success in the playoffs.
The main impact of Cora was the relationship with his players. Unlike Farrell, Cora kept a close relationship with his players in the clubhouse, letting them know everything.
“He really communicates with players, he talks,” Red Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez said in a recent interview with Barstool Sport’s Section 10 Podcast. “He asks you how you are feeling while thinking about a decision.”
Cora’s ability to bring the players together brought the team chemistry to an all-time high, giving them the ability to become champions.
Cora is ended the year as a finalist for American League Manager of the Year, following his extremely successful year. The Red Sox manager had his contract extended to 2021, and has a lot of work to do this offseason to keep this team as a World Series contender for years to come.