BOSTON -- Accountability Alex is in full affect, painting a new image for his club and helping his players as he goes.
The Red Sox manager on Tuesday afternoon acknowledged something the 2017 Red Sox seemingly never did: a mistake. He noted a flat-out lapse in judgment in a particular moment from Sunday's game.
MORE RED SOX
Is Sox' fast start worth celebrating?
Cora should have pulled J.D. Martinez from left field for a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. was on the bench, the Sox had an 8-7 lead and Craig Kimbrel was on the mound.
But the bottom of the eighth inning was pretty wild as the Sox erased a five-run deficit.
"Honestly -- I'm going to be honest with you," Cora said. "We scored six runs, and we were so excited about it, and the manager missed that one."
Woah. No song and dance? Cora was later asked why he was being so honest.
"Because I did. Why lie, you know?" Cora said. "It happens. Everybody saw it. I think I ask our guys to be genuine, transparent and responsible. So, if I'm asking them to be that way, well, I better be that way. Because if I say something else, they know I'm not telling the truth."
Refreshing as a sip of Zima. In Game No. 9 as a big-league manager, Cora made a mistake, and he publicly identified it. Heck, Gabe Kapler has probably made it impossible for Cora to look bad anyway.
Cora said from the outset of his time with the Sox he wasn't going to change his approach, and after 2017, it was clear the Sox needed Cora to follow through to that end.
Whether Cora realizes it or not, there's a ripple effect when he takes the stage as he did Tuesday. He pulled the conversation, and any pressure that comes with being a part of the conversation, away from the players and onto himself. You can call that the Tito Special.
Instead of a discussion with the media about Martinez's subpar play in left field Sunday, as could have cropped up, Cora's pregame session veered toward the skipper. And he steered it there, whether he meant to or not. The manager does not control the questions, but he does seem to understand what the public, the media and the fans, generally want to hear -- and serving it appears a genuine response. And when the media hears something interesting about the manager -- like an admission of fault -- the media typically follows that thread.
There was one other move Sunday that was a little puzzling: Choosing not to pinch run for Christian Vazquez with Blake Swihart in the eighth inning. The latter is certainly faster. Vazquez scored the tying run in the eighth inning on a Mookie Betts single as the Sox stormed back, but a better throw home probably nails Vazquez.
"He's one of our best base runners out there," Cora said. "He's not the fastest one, but his secondaries are a lot better than a lot of guys that we have and he has a sense of the game. Where they were in the outfield, that was probably, you know, I don't think there was going to be a play. With two outs and you go with the swing, he was going to get a good jump and score."
Speed is still what matters most, so Cora's explanation may have been missing a piece. Did Cora feel comfortable with Swihart catching in the ninth inning, or would he have had to then turn to Sandy Leon and leave no catchers on the bench? That's unclear. But, unlike the choice to leave Martinez in the outfield, leaving Vazquez in was by design.