Red Sox

‘This is different’: 5 takeaways as Red Sox prepare for Wild Card Game vs. Yankees

"We didn’t run into [92] wins just being lucky."

Red Sox Yankees wildcard
Red Sox manager Alex Cora took questions from the media the day before taking on the Yankees in the wildcard. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Here are the takeaways as the Red Sox met with the media on Monday prior to their AL Wild Card Game against the Yankees.

J.D. Martinez is still questionable

Martinez, who twisted his ankle during Sunday’s game, might not play against the Yankees. Losing Martinez’s bat in the middle of the lineup would be a blow for the Red Sox, who already face a tough test against a Yankees team that just swept them.

“We’re waiting,” Alex Cora said about Martinez. “He’s getting treatment. We’ll probably have to make a decision tomorrow morning, roster-wise. Let’s see how he reacts to treatment and everything they are doing with him in there. We don’t know yet.”


Building a roster for a one-off game isn’t easy, as Cora can attest.

“This is different,” Cora said. “It’s one game and there’s going to be guys that we’re not going to have on the roster they deserve to be there, but we don’t need in a one-game ‘series.’

“It’s very difficult. Obviously, you go through the game mentally – I’ve been thinking about this game and moves for the last 24 hours, and we don’t know their roster. … At the end, the 26 guys they are going to pick and the 26 guys we’re going to pick, they are going to be the right ones, and it’s going to be fun.”

Don’t expect to see Chris Sale

Cora will have a full complement of pitchers at his disposal, including several starters who could throw an inning to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard.

Chris Sale will “most likely” not be one of them, per Cora. Still, Cora hopes Sale might be able to throw again soon following Sunday’s brief outing.

“Hopefully we can have that conversation,” Cora said.

Sale pitched just 2.1 innings against the Nationals on Sunday as he struggled with his command. Per Cora, Sale’s issues were predictable — his changeup still isn’t entirely back — a common problem for pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery.


“I was just telling him we were so excited about the changeup because supposedly when you come out of this process, whatever that’s the last pitch you get because of how you have to manipulate the pitch,” Cora said. “He’s not there yet. … The slider is good, the fastball is good, but that’s a pitch that the feel is not there yet. He’ll keep working on it, and hopefully he has a chance to start again here in October, and he’ll give us a chance to win.”

Gerrit Cole vs. Nathan Eovaldi could be electric

While Sale is the Red Sox’s ace, Eovaldi has been perhaps the team’s most consistent pitcher this season. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will take on Cole — a Cy Young award candidate in the American League.

“Yeah, it just feels good,” Cora said. “As a manager too, going into the game, although you have to be ready to go to Plan B as soon as possible, it’s only nine innings, whatever, those two guys have been great. I think for baseball, it’ll be great to see those guys going at it.”

Eovaldi is similarly impressed by Cole, who is 16-8 with a 3.23 ERA.


“He’s easily a top five pitcher in the game right now,” Eovaldi said. “All his stuff is electric. He commands the zone. He’s got four-plus pitches. It seems like every year he’s up at the top of the leader board with strikeouts, and he limits the walks and attacks the hitters.”

Cole, meanwhile, told reporters Eovaldi is a “high-stakes performer.”

The Red Sox certainly hope so.

The Red Sox recognize their imperfections

Cora didn’t downplay the Red Sox’s issues. At times, they have struggled on the base paths. Their defense lost them multiple games. Their bullpen hasn’t always been consistent.

And yet, this team ground its way to 92 wins.

“We are who we are,” Cora said. “We aren’t perfect. We know that. But we didn’t run into [92] wins just being lucky. We have a good baseball team. Since Day 1, we’ve been saying it all along, we are good, but we have to keep working. It doesn’t change.”

Red Sox vs. Yankees will be fun … but different

Red Sox vs. Yankees is a fun rivalry, and Monday’s game will certainly be an intense atmosphere at Fenway Park. But as Cora noted, the personalities this time around might not be quite as big.

“We have great players. We have some good players, I don’t know if …,” Cora trailed off. “They used to fight too. I think that gave it a little bit more for the fanbase, for baseball, but here it’s just two good teams that are playing for the same thing.”


This Red Sox/Yankees rivalry doesn’t feature names as big as Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz or Derek Jeter.

Still, give Rafael Devers vs. Aaron Judge some time (and a few more games as big as Tuesday). A comparable rivalry could still blossom.


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