Red Sox

‘We got to keep going’: Alex Cora happy with Red Sox’ recent surge, but knows there’s still work to be done

The Red Sox are 25-11 since May 11, but they're barely in the playoff picture following Sunday.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has watched his team go on a tear recently. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Red Sox are building momentum as they head into what’s likely their toughest stretch of the season.

Boston survived a late surge from the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday to win 6-4, winning the three-game set. The series win over the Cardinals is the fifth straight series win for the Red Sox and their eighth in the last 10.

Sunday’s win over the Cardinals brought in a different significance. First-place St. Louis was the first team above .500 that Boston faced since May 18, when Houston completed its three-game set at Fenway.

The weekend series against the Cardinals began a 42-game stretch in which the Red Sox will play 36 games against teams who are currently above .500. While the Red Sox’ recent play has gotten them back into the playoff picture (they’re tied with the Guardians for the final wild card spot and are 2.5 games back of the Blue Jays for the top wild card spot), manager Alex Cora knows his team can’t feel satisfied because of the long road ahead.

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“We got to keep rolling,” Cora said following Sunday’s win. “We got to keep going. Every series for us is a challenge, and it’s because we started the way we started.”

“We know where we are at in the standings,” Cora added. “You know obviously, there’s a team out there that … they’re doing something very special. But, at the end of the day, we understand that [the goal] is to get there. To get there we have a lot of work to do. But, we put ourselves in a situation that we’re in the conversation now. And we just got to keep playing better.”

Because of the Red Sox’ 11-20 start, the American League East is likely out of reach for them this season as the Yankees are 49-17 and hold a 13.5-game lead following Sunday’s games. New York actually lost to Toronto on Sunday, which was just its second loss in the last 18 games. Even after going 25-11 since May 11, the Red Sox have fallen two games in the standings behind the Yankees since then because of how well New York’s played over the last month and a half.

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Sunday’s Red Sox win came behind another strong performance from starter Nick Pivetta. The righty gave up one run on four hits, four walks, and 10 strikeouts over seven innings against the Cardinals on Sunday, earning him his seventh win in the last nine starts, in which he has a 1.77 ERA. It’s the fifth time during that stretch in which Pivetta’s pitched at least seven innings. Sunday’s start followed his eight-inning, three-hit performance against the Athletics on Tuesday.

Cora said Pivetta “did an outstanding job,” especially after allowing four walks in the first three innings. Pivetta finished his outing on Sunday by striking out the side in order in the seventh, something he said he took pride in.

“Personally, I just think I’m going out there and competing,” Pivetta said. “You’re facing the best hitters in the world at any time. I’m just competing out there and I want to beat the best at all times. I want to finish really strong. It’s just like that accumulation of everything coming together kind of gets my emotions going, but it’s a lot of fun. I take great pride in what I do.”

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The Red Sox close out their nine-game homestand with a three-game set against the Tigers beginning on Monday before hitting the road for nine games.

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