By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox trailed the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 with two outs in the eighth inning on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. Things looked a bit grim for the home team.
But on the strength of six straight hits, the Red Sox managed not only to plate the five runs needed to tie the game but also to get the go-ahead run across home plate before the inning ended. It was a wild scene, one that had everyone inside Fenway caught up in emotion.
That was a group that included manager Alex Cora. He had started the game with J.D. Martinez in left field, but with the one-run lead and with closer Craig Kimbrel on for the top of the ninth, the smart baseball move would have been to remove Martinez from the game, insert Jackie Bradley Jr. in to center field for his exceptional defense, while sliding Andrew Benintendi over to left from center.
It was a miscue that didn’t end up costing the Red Sox anything — the Rays couldn’t get the ball out of the infield against Kimbrel — but it’s nevertheless a mistake that Cora owned up to on Tuesday afternoon.
“Honestly I’m gonna be honest with you,” Cora said prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Yankees. “We scored six runs and we were so excited about it … and the manager missed that one.”
Considering it was a managerial miscue that didn’t bring about any negative result, Cora was asked why he admitted to it.
“Why lie? It happens,” he said. “Everybody saw it. I ask our guys to be genuine, transparent, and responsible. So if I’m asking them to be that way, well, I better be that way. Because if I say something else, they know I’m not telling the truth.”
It’s not necessarily a monumental revelation, but it’s nevertheless an indication that Cora does not intend to hide from any mistakes he may be making a first-time manager. It’s also not a seismic shift from the John Farrell era — the former Sox manager did admit to the occasional blunder from time to time — but it’s nevertheless the type of approach that will be noticed by the players in the clubhouse.
Of course, the fact that the Red Sox are 8-1 is what makes such an admission somewhat easy for Cora to make. If the roles of Tuesday’s game were reversed and it was the 5-5 Red Sox hosting the 8-1 Yankees, perhaps there’d be fewer smiles in the press room as Cora reflected on a gaffe that cost his team a win.
But for now, the Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball, and their new manager can do no wrong — even when he’s wrong.