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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Alex Cora burned for terrible decision during ALCS Game 5

Close-up of Alex Cora face

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.

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.

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.

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

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