Alex Cora burned for terrible decision during ALCS Game 5
Alex Cora has generally made very good managerial decisions with his Boston Red Sox this year. But he made one terrible decision in Game 5 of the ALCS on Wednesday that backfired.
The Houston Astros entered the top of the sixth leading 1-0 on a second inning home run by Yordan Alvarez. Through five innings, Red Sox starter Chris Sale had allowed just two hits — both to Alvarez.
Houston got a leadoff walk and then Michael Brantley reached on an error. They had Alvarez coming to the plate with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth. Alvarez had hit Sale hard in both of his previous at-bats.
Rather than walk Alvarez to load the bases and set up a double play situation, Cora let Sale face Alvarez a third time. The Astros slugger scorched a ball down the left field line for a 2-run double to make it 3-0.
I really don’t understand how Alex Cora could leave Chris Sale in there to face Alvarez for a third time
— Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique) October 20, 2021
Cora made a pitching change after the 2-run double, but it was too late. Houston added three more runs to make it 6-0. They broke the game open in the sixth for five runs, similarly to how they broke open Game 4 with seven runs in the ninth.
Many of those watching the game couldn’t believe Cora left Sale in to face Alvarez a third time.
Alex Cora is going to let Chris Sale face Yordan Alvarez for a third time. Definitely a decision.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) October 20, 2021
Alex Cora lets Chris Sale see Yordan Alvarez for a third time when the first two went very poorly. And then the third time went poorly, too, with Alvarez mashing a two-run double to put the Astros up 3-0.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) October 20, 2021
Thank you Alex Cora for letting Chris Sale pitch to Yordan Alvarez a third time. What did you think was going to happen? #ForTheH
— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) October 20, 2021
Sale seeing Alvarez for the 3rd time and it absolutely goes like you’d think: doubles the other way. We’re all going to second guess Cora for doing that. Now 3-0 Astros.
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) October 20, 2021
I’m surprised Alex Cora let Chris Sale face Yordan Alvarez! Yes, it’s lefty vs. lefty, but he’s hit well in the previous two at-bats. Thanks! #Astros
— Eric Huysman (@EricTalksStros) October 20, 2021
Yordan Alvarez drives in two more. Most managers would have pulled Chris Sale earlier. Huge gamble by Alex Cora to think Sale could retire the guy who already had owned him today. #ForTheH #DirtyWater #Astros lead 3-0. #ALCS2021
— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) October 20, 2021
Sure, Sale against Alvarez was a lefty-lefty matchup. But Cora should have taken a cue from the first two at-bats and realized Sale being lefty didn’t hinder Alvarez. Sale was pitching well aside from his struggles against Alvarez. Why not just walk Yordan and let Sale face Carlos Correa, whom he had struck out twice?
Cora said he did not consider walking Alvarez.
Cora said he didn’t consider walking Alvarez in that spot and liked the lefty-lefty matchup with Sale there.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) October 21, 2021
The hot Alvarez went 3-for-3 against Sale with a single, double, home run and the first three RBIs of the game. Those were the only hits Sale allowed.
Photo: Aug 1, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (13) looks on against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports