Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was apologetic in his postgame comments for his outburst directed at the umpires on a controversial play.
Alex Cora rarely loses his cool. In fairness, he rarely had reason to be upset when the Boston Red Sox were steamrolling toward a franchise record win total and a World Series title last year. The manager’s patience has been tested a bit more in a season in which his team has underachieved yet he typically keeps a level head.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday night in Minnesota when his frustrations boiled over in the bottom of the 17th inning. Cora came out to argue when he felt that Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario stepped out of the batter’s box on a bunt attempt. His request for a review was denied, leading to a heated argument. Cora continued chirping at the crew of umpires from the dugout throughout the inning until they left the field following Max Kepler‘s walk-off base hit.
Cora’s temper settled down only after he was able to watch a replay after the game, at which point he realized he was wrong. While Rosario was out in front of the plate on his bunt attempt, his heels remained inside the batter’s box. It was close – certainly close enough to warrant a replay – but Rosario’s actions were legal.
After realizing his mistake, Cora began his postgame remarks to reporters by issuing an apology to the umpires.
"“Before we start I want to apologize to the umpires,” Cora told reporters, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “Obviously, emotions take over. When you look at the replay and Eddie wasn’t out of the batter’s box. They did an outstanding job for how long it was. It’s one of those that’s tough to swallow. You see it and the emotions take over, but that was out of character so that was my fault.”"
Apologizing was the right move but that doesn’t mean Cora was wrong for arguing even if he was ultimately proven wrong. Rosario was dangerously close to being outside the box, in which case he would have been called out. It would have been a momentum-shifting call for the Red Sox, who may have escaped the inning unscathed if there were two outs with a runner on first.
Instead, Rosario’s plate appearance continued and he would end up smacking a double to right field to put two runners in scoring position. Boston intentionally walked C.J. Cron to load the bases, setting up Kepler’s game-winning single.
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Would the outcome have been different if Rosario had been called out? We’ll never know but you have to like Boston’s chances of extending the game to the 18th inning if the call had gone their way. Given how close Rosario was to the edge of the box, you can understand why Cora was upset that the umpire wouldn’t even bother to check.
Maybe the umpire felt it was clear Rosario stayed within the lines. Maybe he simply didn’t want to add any further delay to a game that was nearing the six-hour mark. It turned out to be the correct call so the Red Sox can’t claim to be victims of an umpire’s botched decision. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating how a play that helped decide the game was handled by Jeremie Rehak and his crew.
This is the second time in the span of a week that Cora has taken issue with the umpires, following a rare ejection against the Texas Rangers when the manager came out to defend Andrew Benintendi. It may only seem notable because these incidents occurred so close together from a manager who almost never gets this heated but it leaves the impression that the frustrations of this season are starting to get to Cora.
The loss pushes Boston 6.5 games back in the AL East and prevented them from leaping over the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. Coming up short in an extra-innings marathon feels like losing twice and it stings more against a potential playoff foe. Cora should be upset following this deflating loss. His anger was simply aimed in the wrong direction.