By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Alex Cora was only three years removed from his last series win as an MLB manager. But it’s no doubt felt a lot longer than that.

Cora, of course, was suspended by Major League Baseball for the entirety of the 2020 season for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing operation in 2017, forcing him away from the game that’s been a part of him for his entire life.

But Cora served his suspension, owned up to what he did, and was able to return to Boston, where he won a World Series as a player in 2007 and as a manager in 2018. And after Monday night’s Game 4 win to send the Red Sox to the American League Championship Series, Cora couldn’t hold back his emotions when hugging his daughter on the field during the postgame celebration.

Not long after that moment, he was interviewed by MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, and his emotions were still raw.

“It’s unreal,” Cora said with tears still in his eyes. “From top to bottom, we’ve been working hard to this point. Not too many people gave us a chance, but we obviously believed.”

Without being prompted, Cora reflected on his absence from the game for the 2020 season.

“I’m happy for everybody in the organization. Obviously, happy for my family. I put them in such a tough spot last year, and for them to be able to enjoy it, I know it’s very gratifying and I’m very happy for them,” Cora said. “[My daughter] suffered a lot, and it was my fault. And, you know, sometimes we make bad decisions, and I made a horrible decision in baseball. And I paid the price. But what really hurt me was for them to suffer because of my mistakes. And for her to enjoy this, it’s very gratifying.”

As a manager, Cora has now guided the Red Sox to a 15-4 playoff record, winning four playoff series plus a Wild Card game.

Later, in his postgame press conference, Cora was asked what type of emotion he was feeling after the win.

“A lot of things. A lot of things,” he said.”Just proud of the group. Proud of everybody here. Happy for my family that they can enjoy this. Happy for Boston. It was an amazing day. That was loud. That was actually better than yesterday.”

CBSBoston.com Staff