You told us before the game you thought it was going to play out like this with the matchups and pinch-hitters. Is that for a manager a fun game necessarily to play it that way?
ALEX CORA: I love it. It’s a challenge. They’re going to mix and match. They’re going to pinch-hit, they’re going to bring their relievers. And you have to — and you know how I say I hate managing the other team, but actually you have to manage them and see who they have, and where they’re going to come in, and when is going to be the point that the matchup is going to benefit us.
The Nuñez home run gave you a big cushion tonight, but thinking beyond that, you saw what happened last year. Just your thoughts on what he did for you tonight versus the way the season ended last year?
ALEX CORA: That was sad to see last year. It’s a guy that he changed the complex of the Red Sox when he got traded from San Francisco. He carried this offense and put this team in a different dimension. And he got hurt and only one pitch in the playoffs, and then he was out of it. Tough offseason for him. We got lucky that he — like he was out there late in the offseason, and we were able to sign him. He wasn’t 100% throughout the season. He’s one of the leaders in the clubhouse. For him to show up today and put up a big swing, that’s his first World Series swing, it’s very gratifying to see him do that.
Were you planning for a season without him at one point?
ALEX CORA: This season? Yeah. We signed him late. We had options and all that. But we knew he was a good player. We knew that offensively he can do all the things … he can back swing the ball, he can drive the ball.
When you’re making decisions in a game like this that you know they’ll be second-guessed if they don’t work out, is there ever any fear or anxiety that creeps in?
ALEX CORA: I really don’t care if they second-guess me. I prepare. We prepare as a group, and you make decisions. When I’m done here, I shower, I get on that car, I might get a text and say, “Go to the pharmacy and get some diapers for the kids.” That’s first-guessing and second-guessing over there. It’s a game, man. I enjoy it. I know that we’re in the spotlight here, managers. There’s a lot of shows and they’re going to dissect every move. I was part of that, so I learned. Those four years working for ESPN taught me a lot, being around Buster and Timmy and all those guys, you know. I learned a lot. So I really don’t — I know it’s going to sound bad, but I really don’t care if they second-guess me.
Clayton was hit hard early in the first inning. How would you sum up what he went through tonight in his performance?
DAVE ROBERTS: I don’t think he had the fastball command that he typically does, missing up in the zone. I don’t think his slider had the depth that we’re used to seeing. And those guys put some good at-bats on him. And we didn’t play the defense that we typically do. I thought we left some outs out there. And it didn’t make Clayton’s job any easier.
Do you see the series kind of playing out the way it did today with all the pitching changes and using the pinch-hitters, and both teams using their benches as extensively as they did?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, you look at both rosters, there’s a lot of depth, and you look at the position players on both sides, grinding at-bats, and both teams have the ability to work pitch counts and get pitch counts higher, so you’re going to have to go to the pen and play matchups, and that’s kind of how I saw it, we saw it. But they got the big hit when they needed it.
Q. Can you talk the Red Sox offense tonight?
DAVE ROBERTS: Obviously they’re a dangerous offense, especially when you give them extra outs. J.D. got a pitch with two outs, mistake, back-door cutter that got too much of the plate, and drove in a run with two outs. And then the Devers ball with two outs again, drives in a run. And obviously the Nuñez ball that was down below. It was a breaking ball, back foot, pretty much got there, it was a ball. But he kept a really good swing on it and kept it fair. Those plays right there seem to be the difference in the game. But again I thought we pitched them okay, but that’s a good offense over there.
You had two on in the fifth inning with no outs. You let David Freese bat. What went into that decision?
DAVE ROBERTS: At that point you have three guys on the bench and you’ve got to figure out who — in the fifth inning to deplete your entire bench. I like David’s at-bats. And you look at (Matt) Barnes, he’s sort of neutral. He’s got a good fastball. He’s got a cutter that gets lefties out. So I just felt that first and second base, you’ve got Machado behind him and you have a chance to hit for the next guy after that. But in the fifth inning you start to hitting for guys, you’re going to have nobody left in the game. With the neutral guy and with how David is swinging the bat, I still liked him against Barnes.
When Clayton came out for the fifth, was that a matter of you were going to let him go until he got in trouble or was there something during that walk that you saw that it was time?
DAVE ROBERTS: I thought that right where he was at, I was thinking about even before the inning about Martinez. And when the six, seven-pitch at-bat to Mookie, you walk him, and I didn’t see him getting the slider where it needed to be with the depth. And so Benintendi gets the clean base hit. Now you get Pearce up there, so for me you’re trying to get a punch right there. And I just felt right there that Madson had a better chance to get those righties and get a punch right there. And had a good sequence again Martinez. Didn’t anticipate the four-pitch walk. But even with that, we had a grounder that we could’ve gotten out of the inning fourth and Bogaerts just beat it out.