Red Sox

Red Sox bat around Royals, 13-9

191542.jpg

Red Sox bat around Royals, 13-9

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON As the summer heathas picked up, so have the Red Sox.

The Sox have been the best team in Major League Baseball during the month of July by absolutely scalding the ball all the way to a 17-4 record for the month, and took another step with a 13-9 thrashing of the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

It was the sixth time during July that the Sox have scored more than 10 runs in a game and out-slugged whichever team lined up against them on the other side of the diamond.

The middle of Bostons batting order did the bulk of the damage in a game that featured a feeble mound performance from lefty Andrew Miller, and Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz powered Boston to victory.

Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ortiz combined to go 10-for-13 with six runs and 8 RBI in the middle of Bostons hitting attack and slammed through Kansas City pitching immortals like Danny Duffy, Nate Adcock and Blake Wood.

Pedroia had a triple, double and single in his first three times up to the plate during the game in the first four frames, but couldnt finish off the cycle with the home run after extending his career-best 23 game hitting streak.

The Sox needed all of the sock because Miller was a puddle on the mound from the very beginning in a fairly important start with Bostons starting rotation beginning to regain some healthy hurlers. Miller was knocked around for seven runs on nine hits before getting yanked midway through the fourth inning, and actually exited trailing the ballgame. He compounded his subpar mound work with a terrible throw to first on an Alcides Escobar bunt that prolonged a second inning Royals rally.

Luckily for Miller and the Sox, Alfredo Aceves rode in to the rescue from the bullpen and earned the win for Boston after spinning 3 13 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts.

Player of the Game: Who else but Dustin Pedroia? The Sox sparkplug went 4-for-4 in his first four trips to the plate and ended up only a home run short of hitting for the cycle for the first time in his career. Pedroia also extended his career-best hitting streak to 23 games a franchise record for the Sox by a second baseman. The career numbers that Pedroia posts at the cleanup spot would indicate that perhaps he deserves a little extended time in the No. 4 hole at some point this season. Hes also back up over the .300 batting average mark for the season after his average climbed from .297 all the way to .304 with his 4-for-5 night.Honorable Mention: Alfredo Aceves -- just like Julian Tavarez before him -- gets little recognition or fanfare for the job that he does, but performs his role as a rubber-armed long man in the Sox bullpen that allows Boston to win ballgames. Aceves tossed 3 13 innings of scoreless relief after Andrew Miller couldnt make it out of the fourth frame, and improved his record with the Sox to 6-1 on the season. Hes been a marvelous pick-up for Boston this year with a 3.28 ERA in an extremely underappreciated role.The Goat: Andrew Miller and Danny Duffy sound more like music composers than Major League Baseball pitchers, so its probably appropriate that neither of them made it cleanly out of the fourth inning. Actually neither of them made it out of the fourth inning at all. While Duffy is Kansas Citys problem amid a horrendous starting rotation, Miller may be running out of turns in Bostons starting staff if he cant get things straightened out. He was continuously behind in the count, looked shaky fielding his position and served up a couple of batting practice fastballs to Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in the fateful fourth. Miller needs to be better.Turning Point: The Sox batted around in the fifth inning and plated six runs that gave them the lead for good in a run-filled game that was easy on the scoreboard, but not so kind to the ERAs of numerous pitchers. The big play was a two-base error by Mike Aviles that saw him drop a bunted ball while covering first base and then air-mail a throw to home that allowed both Josh Reddick and Yamaico Navarro to score.By the Numbers: 15 the number of years since a Red Sox player hit for the cycle when John Valentin pulled the trick on June 6, 1996 against the Chicago White Sox. Pedroia had the triple, single and double in his first three at bats, but flew out to deep left field in the eighth inning in his final chance to go for the cycle.Quote of Note: If Im Tito Im letting him hit clean-up all year and make it easy for us. David Ortiz with a piece of friendly advice for Terry Francona when asked what he thought about Dustin Pedroia in the clean-up spot during Tuesdays win.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

As Red Sox manager, Cora must keep conviction, honesty that got him job

BOSTON -- Just as a batter can subconsciously play to avoid losing, rather than to win, a manager can operate with a fear of failure. Such an unwitting approach may have contributed John Farrell’s downfall, and is an area where Alex Cora can set himself apart.

A lot has been written about the value of authenticity in leadership. It’s one thing to have the charisma and conviction needed to land a position of power. It’s another to take over a pressure-cooker job, like manager of the Red Sox, and carry the fortitude to stay true to yourself, continue to let those qualities shine.

Cora did not appear to pull any punches in his days with ESPN. The 42-year-old engaged in Twitter debates with media members and fans. And throughout his baseball life, he showed his colors.

Via Newsday’s Dave Lennon, here’s a scene from 2010 when Cora was with the Mets: 

Last year, Cora spoke out against the league office's rule requiring minorities always be interviewed.

Perhaps most interesting of all, when Chris Sale cut up White Sox jerseys, Cora was Dennis Eckersley-like in his assessment:

“What he did is not acceptable,” Cora said of Sale. “If I’m a veteran guy, I’m going to take exception. if I’m a young guy, I’m going to take exception. Because as a young guy on a team that is actually struggling right now, somebody has to show me the ropes of how to act as a big leaguer. And this is not the way you act as a big leaguer. Forget the trades, forget who you are.

“What you do in that clubhouse, you got to act like a professional. And that’s one thing my agent, Scott Boras, used to tell me when I got to the big leagues: act like a professional. Chris Sale didn’t do it. He’s not showing the veterans that you respect the game. He’s not showing the rookies how to be a big leaguer, and that’s what I take exception to.”

Take out Chris Sale’s name from the above quotation and insert David Price’s. Describes Price's incident with Eckersley perfectly, doesn't it? 

Now, no manager can say what they’re really thinking all the time. Cora’s not in the media anymore. His new job description is different. 

But when you consider the great success of Terry Francona -- and why he succeeded in this market beyond simply winning -- what stands out is how comfortable Francona appears in his own skin. How genuine he seems. 

There is a way to acknowledge, as a manager, when something is off. A way to do so gently but genuinely. A way to say what you feel -- and a way to say what you feel must be said -- while operating without fear of the players you manage. 

Ultimately, most every comment Francona makes is intended to shield his players. But Francona shows his personality as he goes (or if you want to be a bit cynical, he sells his personality marvelously). Those little self-deprecating jokes -- he charms the hell out of everyone. The media, the fans. The Cult of Tito has a real following, because he feels real. Because he is real. 

Farrell was not fake. But he did have a hard time letting his personality come across consistently, to his detriment. He was reserved, in part because that just appeared to be his nature. But the job must have, with time, forced him to withdraw even further. As everything Farrell said (and did) was picked apart in the market, it likely became easiest just to play it safe in every facet -- speaking to the media, speaking to players.

The Sox’ biggest undertaking in 2017 seemed to be a nothing-to-see-here campaign. It was all fine. No David Ortiz, no home runs, no problem. Manny Machado was loved. The media was the problem, not any attitude or attitudes inside the clubhouse. Base running was a net positive -- you name it, none of it was ever tabbed as a problem publicly by the manager, or anyone else.

A perpetually defensive stance was the public image. Issues were never addressed or poorly defused, so questions always lingered.

Maybe Cora cannot admonish Sale as he did a year ago now that he’s managing Sale. Not publicly, anyway. But even as a quote-unquote player's manager, the job still requires authority, which should be doled out just as it was earned: through authentic comments and actions.

"My job as the manager is to set the culture, the expectations, the standards, the baseball," Cora’s present boss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, said the night the Astros clinched the pennant. "It's the players' job to develop the chemistry.

“And obviously good teams always say that, we want chemistry, and what comes first, the chemistry or the winning. But when you have it, you want to hold on to it as much as possible . . . We've got a good thing going because we have one common goal, we have one common standard, and that's to be your best every day."

Cora has to remain true to his best, too -- not what he thinks, and hears, and reads, people want his best to be.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

Red Sox hire Alex Cora as their new manager

BOSTON -- Alex Cora is the 47th manager in Red Sox history, charged with reinvigorating a young clubhouse and improving on consecutive 93-win seasons that fizzled in the first round of the playoffs.

The team made the hiring of the 42-year-old Astros bench coach official on Sunday, a day after Houston advanced to the World Series and two days before the start of the Fall Classic. Cora will remain with the Astros until the Series is finished and has a three-year deal, with a club option for 2021.

A 14-year big leaguer from Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Latin manager in club history. He hit .252 in 301 games for the Sox from 2005-08. He was the most sought-after managerial candidate this offseason and arrives with a great reputation based on his personality, his prior experience in Boston and his season with the Astros. 

ALEX CORA: NEW RED SOX MANAGER

He knows Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia well. The last time Cora was in the World Series prior to this year was 2007. On Saturday, exactly 10 years after the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Indians in the American League Championship Series, the Astros finished off a rally after falling behind 3-2 in the series.

"You know, we've never been through this," Dustin Pedroia said after the Sox won Game 7 in 2007. "This is on the biggest stage. Everyone is watching these games. I remember the Angels series, I was nervous. Alex Cora told me, 'Hey, settle down, be yourself, have fun. This game is meant to be played, have fun. Play as hard as you can and leave it out there on the field. If we lose, we lose. Don't have any regrets.'

"Ever since then I kind of went out there, and I don't worry about anything but playing hard. I think everybody is doing that. Nobody cares about anything, just picking each other up and playing the game to win."

Early on, Cora will have to prove that his inexperience is not a stumbling block for a club in a win-now mindset. This season was Cora's only as a major-league coach. He's the first Sox manager to take the big job without prior major-league managing experience since Grady Little in 2002. 

Cora's ability to bond with players is his hallmark.

"Alex brings a lot to the table," Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran said. "He's a guy that always is looking for information that he could use against the opposite team. And he's also, he provides that information to the player, which is great. He has good communication with the guys, respects the guys. He's always in the clubhouse getting to know the players, getting to know which buttons he could push on each player to make them go out there and play the game hard, which is great.

"I think I always feel that sometimes managers, they draw a very defined line between players and manager. And sometimes they get caught up not going to the clubhouse because they don't want to feel like they're invading their space. But as a player, I love when managers come to the clubhouse, sit down, talk to us, get to know us, ask about our family, about everything. And that really, for me, means a lot. So Alex does that real well."

Cora's hiring comes five years and a day after the Red Sox hired John Farrell. The choice could have been announced prior to Sunday, but the Red Sox were being respectful of the Astros' playoff run. 

In a statement released by the Red Sox, Cora said: “I am extremely honored and humbled to be named manager of the Boston Red Sox and I want to thank Dave, John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy for giving me such a tremendous opportunity. Returning to the Red Sox and the city of Boston is a dream come true for me and my family and I look forward to working towards the ultimate goal of winning another championship for this city and its great fans. At the same time, I want to express my appreciation for Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch, and the entire Houston Astros organization for giving me the chance to start my coaching career. It has been a very special season and an incredible organization to be a part of and I am looking forward to the World Series and winning with this group.”

“We were very impressed when we interviewed Alex,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in the statement. “He came to us as a highly-regarded candidate, and from speaking with him throughout this process, we found him to be very knowledgeable, driven, and deserving of this opportunity. He is a highly respected and hardworking individual who has experience playing in Boston. Alex also has a full appreciation for the use of analytical information in today's game and his ability to communicate and relate to both young players and veterans is a plus. Finally, the fact that he is bilingual is very significant for our club.”

“As someone who has played in Boston and knows what it takes to win here, Alex is uniquely positioned to instill a championship culture,” team chairman Werner added in the statement. “Baseball is in his blood and we could not be more pleased to have found someone so accomplished to lead our team. Welcome home, Alex.” 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE