Boston Red Sox: Alex Cora brought character and identity back in 2021

Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

After Xander Bogarts hit a 2-run blast in Game 4 to give the Boston Red Sox an early lead in the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros it looked like one of those typical World Series runs the team has been known for.

The Sox bats were rolling, the Fenway Park crowd was in a frenzy and every move Alex Cora made seemed to be working.  Then it all went silent.  Just like that the offense stopped hitting.  Just like that, it was the Astros with all the big hits.

Cora and his resilient crew went on to lose Game 4 along with Game 5 and Game 6 and they weren’t even competitive despite gutsy performances from Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi on the mound.

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As the Astros now take on the Atlanta Braves in the 2021 World Series, it seems like the Red Sox let a championship slip away even though they had no business being in that position in the first place.

Coming off a rather forgettable 2020 MLB season, the Boston Red Sox brought back Cora and instantly that identity and character returned to the team.  Xander Bogearts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez were raking the ball all over the place. The starting pitching was holding its own led by first-time All-Star Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta.

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Despite their overall struggles, even Martin Perez and Garrett Richards had their moments.  In the bullpen, Matt Barnes became a dominant force and Garrett Whitlock was a diamond found in the New York Yankees rough.  The Red Sox were back baby, but fans and critics couldn’t completely get on board because they were an overachieving machine.

Then the struggling started.  The 2021 Boston Red Sox went through stretches where nothing was going right.  Martinez went through his slumps, the starting pitching had lapses of consistency and Barnes turned from dominant closer to just some poser who blew save after save.

Yet, Cora kept this team believing.  With Sale returning and Kyle Schwarber added to the mix, the Red Sox were eventually set up to make the run they did.  Although they pretty much backed into the American League Wild Card against the Yankees, the team went through enough adversity that one had to know they were due to go on the run they did.  It all started with their manager.

The fun was back and players like Bogaerts were thrilled to have a leader like Cora back in the clubhouse.

"“It was fun, man. It was fun,” Bogaerts said of Cora, via WEEI. “Obviously, a lot of guys are familiar with him, a lot of guys would have loved to have him back. So I think it was some times that were hard during the season, but for the most part, we came together, especially towards the end of the season when everything started clicking for us and we were able to write a great story this season. It didn’t end the way we wanted but it was great.”"

That great story ran out of pages, but 2021 seems to have set up another exciting chapter for 2022.  The Boston Red Sox will have some major questions entering the offseason, but they will have some money to spend along with some exciting prospects making their way up to the big squad.

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With a healthy Sale, the starting rotation will be another solid starter away from dominance and on offense, upgrades at first and second base should sure things up defensively while potentially making the lineup even more potent. The key is to add to this identity and character. With the leadership of Alex Cora, that shouldn’t be a problem.