Obviously, this season has been one of the most fun I can ever remember. 108 regular season wins, a trip through the hated Yankees and Houston and on to the World Series.
Come play off time, I actually watch the Red Sox. Needless to say, there have been a few anxious, head scratching moments so far. Let's start with our closer, Craig Kimbrell. During the ALDS and ALCS, Kimbrell decided he would take a few years off my life my turning a routine close situation into can't find the plate, runners on base, go-ahead runs in scoring position, etc. He was responsible for 20 or so minutes of hell. One game ended with Benintendi making a catch on his stomach to bail Kimbrell out. In Game 4 of the Houston series, a silent Minute Maid Park became deafeningly loud when the bases were suddenly full of Astro players. Houdini escaped again.
David Price pitched as well as we ever saw in Game 5 the following night, and the Red Sox went into the bottom of the 9th with a slim lead. Who does Alex Cora have coming out of the bullpen to face the meat of the Astro's order? Kimbrell again. I watched with horror as the bullpen door opened, thinking I was in for 20 minutes of hell again. Wrong. 5 minutes later, the game was over On to the World Series.
The word I have heard uttered from Alex Cora numerous times is...…..TRUST. As in, "Craig is our closer, we trust he will get the job done". Chris Sale (our ace) found himself in the hospital, unable to pitch game 5. The night before, David Price warmed up in the bullpen for what seemed like 2 hours. Guess who Cora gave the ball to, in HOUSTON, to start game 5? The same guy who had not won a playoff game ever! Why? "David is an excellent pitcher. I trust him."
Christian Vazquez, one of our catchers, has really struggled at the plate. Who played a significant role in the series, both behind and at the plate? Christian. Cora just flat out trusts him. Jackie Bradley Jr. batted .170 for 2 or 3 months. A major league outfielder with that low a batting average is usually benched for option B. Not Cora. The press, the fans, radio call-ins killed Cora for most of these decisions. The common denominator for these and other moves is Alex Cora's unshakable faith in his team.
It is absolutely amazing how people will perform and how much they will give of themselves if you don't give up on them, continue to improve with them and just trust them. As leaders, don't we have a responsibility to trust and develop them? After all, who hired them?