By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
Alex Cora made a mistake in Game 2.
He needs to fix that mistake in Game 3.
As the series shifts back to New York, the Red Sox need to make a change with the bottom of the batting order. Ian Kinsler and Eduardo Nunez need to take a seat and Brock Holt and Rafael Devers need to take their places.
There is little argument against that move at this point. It’s as obvious today as it was on Saturday.
If Cora makes that necessary change, it will be a game too late. Holt and Devers, left-handed hitters, should have been in the lineup against righty Masahiro Tanaka in Game 2.
Instead, Kinsler and Nunez combined for an 0-for-3 night against Tanaka with Kinsler striking out twice.
No more. I’ve seen enough.
There’s no excuse for Holt and Devers not to start against Luis Severino, another righty, in Game 3. The short-porch in right at Little League Yankee Stadium only makes the decision even more obvious to load up the lineup with left-handed hitters.
Both Holt and Devers are hot. Kinsler and Nunez are not.
Holt hit .354 in September with four home runs. Devers has hit five home runs since returning from the minor leagues at the beginning of September.
Kinsler has a putrid .604 OPS since arriving in Boston in July. Nobody will confuse Nunez and his .677 OPS with Mike Schmidt.
Holt and Devers have a much higher offensive upside than Kinsler and Nunez, and the team that led the Majors in runs scored in 2018 needs a major boost at the plate.
The bottom of the order has been a black hole for the Red Sox against the Yankees. Nunez, Kinsler, Sandy Leon, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are a combined 4-for-25 so far in the series. Without a change, we can expect more of the same in the Bronx.
The Red Sox aren’t built to win 3-2 ballgames, especially when going up against a stout Yankees bullpen. They need to hit more than they have to win this series, even if they lose a little bit in the field.
Cora indicated the decision to play Nunez over Devers in Game 2 was made with defense in mind. Devers is not trustworthy defensively, but Nunez proved that he’s not exactly Brooks Robinson either with a shaky-at-best performance in Game 2.
The difference defensively between the two is not great enough to justify keeping Devers’ bat out of the lineup.
Kinsler is better with the glove than Holt, but Holt is serviceable at second base and isn’t liable to cost the Red Sox a game in the field.
Make the change.
The sign of a good manager isn’t someone who makes the right decision all the time. The true sign of a good manager is a skipper who learns from what didn’t work and makes the correct choice the next time around.
We’ll see if Alex Cora learns from his Game 2 mistake when he makes out his lineup card for Game 3.