Many in Red Sox Nation were quick to slam Alex Cora when the team fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in their first game of the season. Cora pulled Chris Sale after six innings after giving up only one hit and striking out nine. This move led many to wonder why Cora didn’t let Sale continue his dominance. The criticism intensified after Joe Kelly and Carson Smith blew the Red Sox’s lead. It’s convenient to blame him for pulling Sale. However, Alex Cora needs patience and support from Red Sox Nation.
There’s a lot of pressure on Cora and the Red Sox this season. The team won back-to-back American League Eastern Division titles in 2016 and 2017, but fell in the first round. The front office finally lost patience with John Farrell who, despite bringing a World Series Championship to Boston in 2013, had become more of a detriment than an asset in recent seasons. His termination came as welcomed news, but that also meant his replacement would face tremendous scrutiny early into the 2018 season.
I’m not excusing Cora’s decision making in the team’s first game of the season. Many fans were left baffled by Cora’s decision to pull Sale after six innings. Sale wasn’t in trouble. The team had a 4-0 lead. It was entirely possible Sale could have thrown a one-hit shutout to start off the season. That’s not how it panned out though. Boston lost 6-4, and Red Sox Nation started criticizing Cora before the team had the chance to walk off the field.
Alex Cora Needs Support, But He Has a Lot to Learn
This season is Cora’s first as a manager. He’s going to need the first several weeks of the season to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to blame him if he was thinking that he didn’t want to overextend Chris Sale so early in the season. In that case, pulling him after six innings makes sense. It’s hard to blame him for bringing Joe Kelly in too. In fact, Kelly took responsibility for his poor outing. “It was pretty pathetic what I did out there,” Kelly said in a Boston.com article.
Cora has a lot to learn about being a manager, especially in Boston where fans aren’t as forgiving as they are in other cities. But Cora isn’t John Farrell. It’s not fair to hold him to the standard Red Sox Nation held Farrell to last season. That doesn’t mean that Cora will get a pass in his first season though. Nor should he. While Cora might have a steep learning curve ahead of him, at the end of the day he’s still the manager. He’s going to have to learn to pick his battles, and figure out how key moves might play out before he tries them. So while Alex Cora needs Red Sox Nation’s support and patience, Alex Cora also needs to realize that patience and support doesn’t last as long in Boston as he did in Houston.
Let’s hope for the best for Alex Cora this season. But let’s also let him know that our patience and support isn’t infinite.