Admit it, that April was horrendous. It was tough to watch. As the 2019 gates opened for the defending greatest single-season baseball team of all time, Red Sox fans were left puzzled. Something was off. Suddenly an offense that was capable of dropping 7 runs an inning at will last season, couldn’t get 7 hits a game. Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley were dropping routine balls, Chris Sale’s fastball lost that zip. Fans couldn’t help but wonder if it would be another worst to first season. Alex Cora isn’t worried.
One person whom seemingly hasn’t been rattled by any of this, sophomore manager Alex Cora. Sox fans didn’t question him last season when he wanted to change the Red Sox approach in Spring Training and try to have the best March record. He thought that by installing a mentality of winning in Spring Training, it would put championship aspirations into the minds of this promising group. That group never looked back, on their way to 108 regular season wins and their fourth title since 2004.
Alex Cora is the perfect manager for this 2019 team.
This season, Cora had a different approach. With the shortened offseason due to the postseason success, Cora wanted to rest his starting pitching. Sale, Price and Eovaldi merely didn’t pitch in March. He thought by resting these veteran arms, they would have more “Juice” later in the season, as supposed to the beginning.
So when Sale isn’t striking out the side on 9 pitches early in April, fans may be concerned. When he doesn’t have that upper 90s “Sale stuff” we are so accustom to seeing, fans may get concerned. But this is all part of reigning champion manager, Cora’s plan.
Now I sit here, looking at the Red Sox calendar on May 9th and I see just as many wins as I do losses. 19 wins to 19 losses for the reigning champs. If the season ended today, they would be a meager one and a half games out of a playoff spot. A spot that some media and fans alike, thought just two weeks ago, we wouldn’t ever see.
On May 8th, Chris Sale dazzled the Baltimore Orioles for 14 strikeouts, and 1 earned run in 8 innings. He pitched an immaculate 7th inning. Basically, vintage Chris Sale. That’s a performance we see from Chris Sale usually in early April. So maybe that Spring training approach has given him that much needed slower pace. A pace that will help him not fizzle out at times in August and September. That approach also will help him avoid that scary term, “dead arm,” that plagued Sale last season.
May 8th was a turning point to this years team.
That game also had Bradley leap up in the bottom of the 9th to rob Trey Mancini of a walk-off homerun. Those routine plays that he and Betts were missing in April, are now not only being made, but being made into memes. We will see that catch on 2019 highlight reels to come and its a reminder as to why Jackie is still in a Boston uniform. Its a reminder of that Cora philosophy of not panicking and letting the inevitable talent outweigh the early season flaws.
That game will be a turning point for this Red Sox team. Throw April out of the window. It’s a new season. 19-19 for the 2019 Red Sox. A team that will never be below .500 again.