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Boston Red Sox offense ‘the best we’ve been the whole season’ in taking 2-1 ALCS lead, Alex Cora says

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BOSTON — Red Sox manager Alex Cora called it “close to a perfect game” played by his team in defeating the Houston Astros 12-3 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

Once again, their offense was the story. They were dominant.

“Offensively, this is the best we’ve been the whole season, and they’re locked in right now,” Cora said after the Red Sox took a 2-1 series lead. “The preparation, it’s a lot better right now. The communication is a lot better.”

Cora is referring to pregame work his hitters are putting in, not only in the batting cage but in the clubhouse during meetings.

Everyone is contributing, and it’s translating on the field, where first baseman Kyle Schwarber‘s second-inning grand slam, on a 3-0 pitch from Jose Urquidy, broke the game open on Monday.

It was one of 11 hits, giving the Red Sox six straight playoff games of 10 or more hits. That had never been done in a single postseason.

Boston also got home runs from Christian Arroyo, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers to go along with Schwarber’s blast. It was his first career hit on a 3-0 pitch and first time in 17 plate appearances this season where he didn’t walk after starting 3-0.

“I definitely wasn’t thinking home run, but I definitely was thinking, don’t be late and get it in the air,” Schwarber said. “I’m a really bad 3-0 hitter.”

His home run made it 6-0 after two innings. The Red Sox added three more in the third before Houston got on the board on a Kyle Tucker three run homer in the fourth. But that’s all they would score on the night as Boston added on three more to seal the game.

“We’ve got a collective group game plan, and we want to execute it with every at-bat, every pitch as much as we can,” Arroyo said.

The six straight games of 10 or more hits is just the start of the Red Sox’s offensive prowess.

• Boston has scored 50 runs in its past six games. That’s the most by any team in a six-game span in the playoffs since Boston scored 52 runs over its final six games in 2007 to win the World Series.

• The Red Sox have17 home runs in their past six games. That’s the most ever over any six-game span in a postseason.

• They joined the 1998 Braves as the only team with three grand slams in a single postseason. They’re the first to do it in a single series.

• They have scored 57 runs this postseason, more than the two NLCS participants, the Dodgers and Braves, combined (47).

Meanwhile, the Astros are searching for answers on the mound while pitching coach Brent Strom is concerned about his pitchers tipping their pitches.

“We just have to do a better job of watching what our pitchers do and getting ahead in the count,” Strom said.

Cora believes it’s the change in their hitting culture that has made the difference for the Red Sox. He credited Schwarber for bringing a new approach after his July trade to the team. Free-swinging hitters began to approach their at-bats with some patience.

“We were expanding,” Cora said. “We didn’t walk too much, and when he got here and when he started playing, it was different. It’s a different at-bat, and other guys have followed his lead, and right now, like I said, this is the best I’ve seen this team this season offensively.”

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Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez mimics Carlos Correa’s watch gesture, drawing rebuke from Boston manager Alex Cora

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BOSTON — The new and old school ways of baseball etiquette clashed during the Boston Red Sox‘s 12-3 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night when Carlos Correa grounded out to second baseman Christian Arroyo to end the sixth inning.

As Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez walked off the mound, he pointed to his wrist, a reference to Correa’s celebration in Game 1 after the shortstop hit a home run off reliever Hansel Robles. The celebration drew an immediate reaction from Boston manager Alex Cora, who screamed, “Hey, no!”

Upon Rodriguez’s return to the dugout, Cora hugged the pitcher and pulled him in for a conversation.

“Don’t do that,” Cora told Rodriguez.

Cora said he did not want Rodriguez to show up Correa for getting out and that the pitcher needed to maintain humility while finding success.

“We just show up, we play, and we move on, and he knows,” Cora said. “I let him know. We don’t have to do that. If we’re looking for motivation outside of what we’re trying to accomplish, we’re in the wrong business. The only motivation we have is to win four games against them and move on to the next round.”

Correa clarified after Game 1 that the celebration was directed toward his teammates.

“When the playoffs start, they always tell me it’s your time now to go out there, hit homers, this and that,” Correa said. “They told me to hit the way and when I hit the homer — I did it in Chicago the first time on my own, and today they told me if you hit a homer, hit them with the ‘It’s your time.’ It just happened naturally there.”

Rodriguez said he felt bad about his own celebration after his conversation with Cora.

“That was part of the moment,” Rodriguez said. “… I will apologize to Correa if I see him in person because that’s not something I normally do. It was just part of the game.”

That apology may not be accepted by Correa, who encouraged Rodriguez’s desire to celebrate the moment after the game.

“I thought it was kind of cool,” Correa said. “It’s just the way baseball should trend going forward. We talk about baseball growing and more people coming to watch the sport, you need to have more things like that. You need to let people have fun and the game should move in that direction, where you can show emotions and be yourself and keep it real.”

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It’s E-Rod’s time – Eduardo Rodriguez mocks Carlos Correa’s celebration in Game 3 win

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When Houston Astros All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa hit his seventh-inning home run in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, some Boston Red Sox players viewed his gesture of pointing to an imaginary wrist-watch — signaling it was “his time” in the postseason — as a display of arrogance in showing up losing pitcher Hansel Robles.

“It did not bother me. Correa is one of the best hitters in baseball; you cannot make mistakes against him. But I did think for a moment … the standing at home plate … pointing to the watch … sometimes some of that stuff is a bit overboard,” said a hesitant Robles, who spoke in Spanish to ESPN.com in Houston on Saturday. But let me tell you something, I have no reason to be mad at Correa. I am the one who made the pitch. In that at bat, he did his job; I did not do mine.”

But some teammates disagreed: During Game 3 at Fenway Park, with Boston enjoying a comfortable 6-run lead at the time, Eduardo Rodriguez retired Correa to close out the top of the 6th inning, the lefty mockingly pointed to an imaginary watch.

Before the Sox’s 9-5 Game 2 win in Houston, Correa said that he did not feel the need to apologize for what may have been interpreted as a violation of etiquette.

“I was not showing up anybody, I was just enjoying the moment,” Correa told ESPN.com.

He added: “It was just celebration with my teammates and it had nothing to do with the other team. I love all those guys over there. I respect all those guys. We didn’t start the game the right way, and I just wanted to spark my team up a little bit. It was a celebration of a big homer in a playoff game.”

The on-field culture in Major League Baseball continues to evolve, and it has exposed many of the tensions beneath the surface of a sport that alienates those who do not follow the unwritten rules of “old school” baseball.

“In the end, we play baseball and this is the entertainment business,” Correa said. “Even though we have a lot of old school heads in the game, this is still the entertainment business, and fans come here to watch a show. We’re here to entertain and win games.”

“I enjoy playing baseball. And as long as my fans appreciate what I do, and love me for the way I play, that’s all I care about,” Correa said. “I care about what my fans and family think of me; that’s what makes me sleep happy at night.”

In terms of whether he embraces the villainous role the Astros, and especially Correa and second baseman Jose Altuve have been tagged with since a sign-stealing scandal marred their 2017 championship run, the 27-year-old shortstop said that it does not faze him.

And neither does the prospect of “getting one on the ribs” as retaliation. As Correa quipped, with a wry smile, “then my on base percentage would go up.”



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