USA Today Sports

Alex Cora, Red Sox left searching for answers after Game 2 loss

Rob Bradford
October 06, 2018 - 11:47 pm

Jacoby Ellsbury replaced Coco Crisp midway through the 2007 American League Championship Series. The situation was flip-flopped the following postseason, with Crisp ultimately taking Ellsbury's job.

In 2013 Jarod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks started their playoff run as starters, only to be replaced by David Ross and Xander Bogaerts, respectively.

And, of course, there was Jonny Gomes swooping into start the final four games of the '13 World Series (winning them all), taking over for Daniel Nava.

The point is, it happens. Teams go in with a postseason blueprint and then realize as it unfolds something doesn't feel quite right. Each manager's hope is that they can identify the issue before it's too late. It's difficult to tell if things would have been different if Rafael Devers played Game 2 in Houston instead of Deven Marrero, but we do know what happened when the Red Sox finally jump-shipped on the idea of Marrero playing at all.

Welcome to Alex Cora's current existence, one which got a whole lot more uncomfortable thanks to the Yankees' 6-2, Game 2 win Saturday night at Fenway Park. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Cora put out a lineup against the most powerful team in Major League Baseball that erred on the side of defending. The thinking was that Eduardo Nunez, Ian Kinsler and Sandy Leon was the proper security blanket for David Price as he looked to weave his way through the Yankees' lineup.

But all that did leave the Red Sox' hottest hitter in September, Brock Holt (who hit .415 in his last 14 regular season games), on the bench, along with the power potential of Devers. And when there was the chance to pinch-hit for Leon with the Red Sox' trailing by two runs leading off the fifth inning, Cora let the catcher hit. That resulted in a weak groundout.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were hitting four home runs that totaled 1,734 feet. This felt like Houston all over again.

Price's postseason problems are one thing. (For more on his horrific 1 2/3-inning start, click here). And so was the uncomfortable outing turned in by Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed Gary Sanchez to hit his second home run of the night 479 feet. But there has to be some acknowledgment that putting the Red Sox' best offensive foot forward is going to be a necessity.

Holt and Devers are a combined 1-for-27 with 15 strikeouts against Game 3 starter Luis Severino. But you know what? They should play.

They were playing the best, they can do the most right now and they are simply better players than the guys they would be replacing, Nunez and Kinsler. Moreland playing is passable because he still has potential to yank a few over that right field wall in Yankee Stadium. Leon? Start him because Rick Porcello is better with Leon behind the plate. But if you find yourself down by two in the fifth inning and the switch-hitter is leading off, Cora should start dipping into his catching depth.

The priority still has to be keeping the Yankees' hitters in the ballpark. If that doesn't happen, none of this lineup maneuvering would matter. But if they the Red Sox can find a way to cut down those homers, an offensive infusion will be impactful.

J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer in Game 1. Xander Bogaerts managed a solo shot Saturday night. And there was a smattering of hits throughout the last 17 innings.

Adjustments have already had to be made. Now Cora and Co. desperately need a few more.