Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

There wasn’t much to separate the Red Sox and the Yankees in this series, but the difference in the dugout was striking.

Alex Cora pressed all the right buttons for his team and played a major role in the Red Sox four-game victory.

I’m not sure if Aaron Boone even knows where the buttons are located.

In a matchup of first-year managers, Cora ran circles around Boone, especially after the series shifted to New York for games 3 and 4. Cora out-managed Boone, and it wasn’t even close.

It seemed like every move Cora made worked out. The same can’t be said for Boone.

Did Boone even make one good decision in the Bronx?

Cora’s first big decision came with his Game 3 starter. After successfully turning to Rick Porcello out of the bullpen in Game 1, Cora opted for the more-rested Nathan Eovaldi for Monday’s start.

The Red Sox were confident that Eovaldi’s stuff would play well against a heavily right-handed New York lineup with plenty of swing-and-miss potential. Cora believed Eovaldi’s 14-inning stretch of scoreless baseball against the Yankees over the summer was not a mirage and could be replicated in Yankee Stadium on baseball’s biggest stage.

Eovaldi tossed seven innings of one-run ball in his first postseason start.

Brilliant.

Boone, meanwhile, couldn’t even get Luis Severino to warm up on time for Game 3. He left his unprepared and unfocused righty in too long and opted for long-man Lance Lynn instead of reliable reliever Chad Green to try and save the Yankees from Severino’s mess.

He chose poorly. The Yankees lost 16-1.

Oct 8, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Lance Lynn (36) hands the ball to Yankees manager Aaron Boone (right) after pitching less than an inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Cora shuffled his lineup for Game 3, adding Brock Holt, Rafael Devers, and Christian Vazquez to his starting nine. All of those decisions hit. Devers started the scoring for Boston, Vazquez had two hits and executed a big hit-and-run, and Brock Holt hit for the cycle.

So of course, Cora benched Holt and Devers for Game 4, citing C.C. Sabathia’s strong numbers against lefties. That worked too, as Kinsler and Nunez drove in two of the four Boston runs.

Vazquez, who hadn’t caught Rick Porcello since last year, homered and was excellent behind the plate in Game 4, especially with a wild Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Nobody would have faulted Cora had he gone back to Sandy Leon, Porcello’s personal preference, but he stuck with the hot hand.

It worked, just like every other decision Cora made.

Go figure.

Boone, on the other hand, hung Sabathia out to dry in Game 4. His diametrically-disadvantaged lefty had little command and was hit hard when he was in the strike-zone.

Sabathia had nothing. The whole world could see it except for Aaron Boone.

He left him out there as the Sox piled up three runs in the third inning. Somehow, there was no action behind Sabathia as the game began to unravel for New York.

Managerial malpractice.

Had Boone gone to his bullpen earlier, his one true advantage over the Red Sox, perhaps the game, and maybe the series, would’ve turned out differently.

But the Red Sox had the edge in the dugout, and that proved to be a bigger factor than any advantage the Yankees may have had on the field.

Sure, it wasn’t perfect for Cora. Taking Porcello out after five innings was questionable. Failing to pinch-hit for Vazquez against Betances in the eighth inning of Game 4 wasn’t great.

But it worked, just like every other move Cora made.

Yankees fans can’t say the same about their manager. They now have an entire offseason to talk about where Boone went wrong.

Their first-year manager gave them plenty of content for that discussion.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.