Red Sox ALCS: Alex Cora sticking with his lineup has big mistake potential

Red Sox skipper Alex Cora sticking with his lineup for Game 6

Things haven’t quite gone the way that we’d like these last two games but there’s still plenty of baseball left to be played. After storming to a 2-1 lead in the ALCS the Red Sox have stumbled massively and now find themselves in a hole heading back to Houston. With all that said, Alex Cora is standing by his lineup exactly how it is and will be going all-in for Game 6 tomorrow night.

If he said this a few days ago I’d fully agree with his sentiments, but after the Astros absolutely embarrassed the Red Sox the last two nights, something has to change. I get not wanting to switch up a recipe that has been relatively successful as of late but it also doesn’t mean you can tinker a bit. Considering what Framber Valdez was able to do to this Boston lineup in Game 5, I’m a bit frustrated we won’t see some changes.

Speaking to the media after the shellacking they took at the hands of the Houston bats AC made sure to prop up his lineup while giving full credit to Valdez and Dusty Baker’s squad. As I said, I understand Cora not wanting to shake things up and possibly cause more harm than good, but I think we can all agree certain guys shouldn’t be in the lineup tomorrow night.

“I don’t see it as a slump. It’s two games,” Cora said. “Obviously, it’s a series, but, I mean, we’ve been really good offensively the whole month.”

I see his point that this may justify saying the team is in a slump but I also can’t get behind him acting as if nothing is wrong. You can’t go from scoring 21 runs over Games 2 & 3 to only three in Games 4 & 5. Something is off and mixing things up maybe a move in the positive direction. What got on my nerves last night was the fact that Valdez was chucking sinkers all night long and yet our batters continued to try and crush the ball.

It was clear to everyone watching what was happening and both the WEEI and FS1 commentary teams made sure fans were on top of Valdez’s pitch selection. Credit to Framber as he knew that this Red Sox lineup was coming into the game wanting to mash and he made them look like idiots all night long. Cora needed to realize what was going on, and he may have and communicated that with his guys. Again, he very well may have but the message was clearly lost.

The last two games have really soured me on Hunter Renfroe which I never thought I’d say based on how this season has gone for the veteran. His horrendous flyball miss in Game 4 was the first domino to fall before Houston woke up. Add in his passion for making very questionable throws from the outfield and he is hurting more than helping in the field.

Then we look at the fact that it feels like he’s become an automatic out at the plate and is colder than a Maine winter. Renfroe is currently sitting on a .071/.278/.143 line and is literally the only starter on this team to not hit a home run in the postseason. I’m a big Renfroe guy and think he still has the potential but he’s the definition of a liability right now and giving him a night off won’t be a death knell.

I wouldn’t hate an outfield lineup of Kyle Schwarber in left, Kiké in center, and Alex Verdugo in right. Then I’d slot Bobby Dalbec in at first and bring Hunter off of the bench if necessary. Cora spoke about needing to make adjustments in the batter’s box but he also needs to make adjustments of his own. If this were a game in June, Renfroe would be given the night off but for some reason in October that can’t be done.

“We know we can hit,” Cora said. “Two bad games doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we’re not a good offensive team. It’s just a matter of regroup, make some adjustments and attack from the first pitch on.”

I trust in Alex Cora and believe in what he can do as manager of the Red Sox. He earned the postseason mystique that surrounds him back in 2018 but some of his decisions as of late are bringing the luster down on that. I would like to see him take his own words into practice and make the adjustments needed for Game 6 because sticking with what hasn’t worked these last two games feels like a mistake.