BOSTON (CBS) — It has been an odd season for the Boston Red Sox, so it’s only fitting that manager Alex Cora made a rather unusual pitching change in Monday night’s comeback win over the White Sox.
It happened in the top of the eighth with one on and two out for the White Sox, who led the Red Sox 5-4. Boston reliever Colten Brewer recorded the first two outs of the inning and was facing lefty Jon Jay. Brewer got to 0-2 on Jay, but then James McCann stole second his 2-2 pitch, and suddenly the count was full following three straight balls.
Out came Cora, who many believed was waltzing out to the mound to chat with Brewer about signs or which pitch to throw, and likely buy a few extra warmup tosses for lefty Josh Taylor, who was warming in the pen. But that was not the case. The skipper was lifting Brewer in the middle of the at-bat for Taylor.
Taylor’s first pitch fastball missed inside, and Jay was awarded first base. Up Yoan Moncada, who had already gone deep once on the night. But Taylor ended any chance of the White Sox adding on some insurance runs, getting Moncada looking at a cutter for the inning-ending punchout.
The Boston offense scored runs in the eighth and ninth innings for a 6-5 comeback win, and Cora explained the unorthodox call to the bullpen after the victory. He said that McCann getting into scoring position changed everything.
“I don’t want Jon Jay to put the ball in play against a righty there,” said Cora. “I know he can go out of the zone and flick it to left field. If McCann would have hit a double, I was going to Taylor against Jay. I was like, ‘No, you know what, it’s lefty against Jay and we’ll take our chances.’ Taylor is throwing the ball great and it’s a matchup that’s actually better for us, so we went with it.
“If we don’t like the matchup with men in scoring position, why hang with that because the at-bat is going on? It worked out,” he added.
Makes sense, though Cora said he had a tough time taking Brewer out of the game.
“It was a tough one, trying to tell him just hang in here with your crazy manager,” Cora relayed. “Then Taylor came in and I said, ‘Just relax, brother.’ This is just a kill pitch. If you strike him out, you strike him out. If you walk him, you walk him.”
It certainly sounds like Cora would be willing to make this unusual call to the pen again. He has been anything but conventional since taking over the Red Sox last season, and it has usually paid off for Boston and their manager. Now we’ll wait to see the next trick he has hiding up his sleeve.