Close pitch earns Cora a quick heave Hoye

Boston Herald - - 2018 ALCS - By JA­SON MASTRODONATO Twit­ter: @JMas­trodonato

RED SOX NOTE­BOOK

The pitch in ques­tion was close, but not egre­gious.

Alex Cora got him­self ejected any­way.

Justin Ver­lan­der’s 98-mph fast­ball to strike out An­drew Ben­in­tendi with the bases loaded and end the fifth in­ning last night earned the Red Sox man­ager an ejec­tion and put Game 1 of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries in the hands of vet­eran bench coach Ron Roenicke.

The Red Sox had just tied the game 2-2 against the Hous­ton Astros, who quickly re­gained the lead with a run in the top of the sixth.

The Sox were go­ing to have to win it with­out Cora, who lost his cool fol­low­ing the called third strike to Ben­in­tendi and was thrown out of the game for bark­ing at home plate um­pire James Hoye be­tween in­nings.

The pitch was a tail­ing fast­ball that might have caught the lowand-out­side cor­ner — it was dif­fi­cult to judge on both the re­play and MLB.com’s Game­day fea­ture if the ball crossed any part of the white — and Ben­in­tendi chucked both his hel­met and bat as he had a few words for Hoye. Cora backed up his left fielder with some scream­ing from the top of the dugout and Hoye had no pa­tience for it.

Hoye had been call­ing a clean in­ning as Ver­lan­der walked three bat­ters to push in the Red Sox’ first run. They scored their sec­ond run on a wild pitch from Ver­lan­der, who was nearly un­hit­table for four in­nings but lost his com­mand in the fifth.

Holt cy­cles back in

The last time Brock Holt was in the lineup, he hit for the cy­cle.

Last night, Cora de­cided to go with Holt at sec­ond base for Game 1.

Cora liked Holt in­stead of Ian Kinsler against Ver­lan­der be­cause Holt is the sec­ond-best player on the Red Sox at hit­ting high-ve­loc­ity pitches.

“Ve­loc­ity, and he’s swing­ing the bat well,” Cora said. “Felt like he’s been catch­ing up with ve­loc­ity up in the zone and he’s been putting good at-bats, so we went with him.”

Holt was 3-for-10 life­time off Ver­lan­der, but he hit .356 this sea­son off fast­balls 95 mph and harder, sec­ond on the Sox to J.D. Martinez (.368), ac­cord­ing to StatCast data. Ver­lan­der av­er­ages 95 mph on his fast­ball.

Ed­uardo Nunez is hit­ting .273 off such fast­balls, while Rafael Dev­ers is hit­ting .224. That played a role in the third base de­ci­sion, in which Cora went with Nunez in­stead of tak­ing the pla­toon ad­van­tage with the left-handed hit­ting Dev­ers.

Nunez was 7-for-23 off Ver­lan­der; Dev­ers was 0-for-3.

Ver­lan­der is “a guy that at­tacks the up­per part of the strike zone and he’s re­lent­less with it,” Cora said. “I felt like the matchup for Raffy to start the game wasn’t a good one. He matches up well against their bullpen. I talked to him al­ready, just be ready, be­cause Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly are ac­tu­ally good matchups for him. He’ll be a big part of the se­ries.”

More­land on bench

Mitch More­land (ham­string) was on the bench in fa­vor of Steve Pearce, but he did pinch hit for Sandy Leon in the fifth.

If Pearce is pinch-hit for, the Sox can al­ways turn to Holt at first base. Blake Swi­hart and Dev­ers are also op­tions. “Raffy took ground balls yes­ter­day just in case in an emer­gency at first base,” Cora said.

Putting More­land on the ros­ter wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion, but the Sox wanted the threat of his bat off the bench . . . .

Ev­ery­body but Game 2 starter David Price was avail­able in the bullpen, in­clud­ing Nathan Eo­valdi and Rick Por­cello, one of whom will start Game 3 in Hous­ton, de­pend­ing how they’re used in the first two games.

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