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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Start spreadin’ the news — this Red Sox team is pretty good

By MIKE SHALIN
October 10. 2018 9:31PM
Boston Red Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez celebrates after defeating New York Yankees in game four of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)



GOTTA watch out for that karma.

As they say, it can be a b——.

After the Yankees won the second game of the ALDS at Fenway Park, their players, who had to walk past the Red Sox clubhouse to get to their bus, were enjoying music coming out of Aaron Judge’s boombox.

The song was “New York, New York,” the Frank Sinatra tune that blasts over the Yankee Stadium sound system after games — lasting longer after wins.

There was a confidence in Judge and his Yankees — they had fought back and almost won the opener after a dreadful start and had then won Game 2. They were going home, where they tend to win a lot.

Alex Cora defended Judge, saying, “You’ve got to ask (Judge) if it was something for us, but I doubt it. He’s a guy that, when he hits the ball out of the ballpark, he (puts his head down) and runs. That’s probably just something they do when they win. Probably they did it somewhere else, too.”

Perhaps.

But three nights later, there was champagne flying around the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium — and “New York, New York” was blasting — as the Red Sox gave the business to their rivals.

“I don’t know if (the players) took it personally,” Cora said. “Just, I don’t know. We’d play ‘Dirty Water’ at Yankee Stadium, and if they would’ve clinched at Fenway, well, they’d play ‘Dirty Water’ in their clubhouse. I don’t know, man.

“The kid, (Judge is) a good kid. He’s a good player, one of the best in the game. he is one of those guys that can become the face of baseball. From afar, I really enjoy watching him play — not when he’s playing against us. He’s good for baseball. Nothing personal on that one.”

Sox advance

The better team, the more complete team, won the ALDS, and now has the home field advantage for the LCS against the defending champions.

And watch out folks — this Houston team is really good.

The Astros spent the season playing through all kinds of injuries and you can make the argument Carlos Correa, their very special shortstop, still isn’t right. They dispatched the Indians in three games. They are very deep and their pitching is very good.

The prediction here is the Astros will win this series against their former bench coach. But don’t take that prediction to the bank — this should be a great series.

They played last year and it just seemed like the Red Sox were not ready for prime time, the Astros winning in four games. But that was before J.D. Martinez, once discarded by Houston, fell into their laps when the rest of baseball decided he wasn’t worth the money Scott Boras said he was. Martinez just might be the best hitter in baseball at the current time.

And while John Farrell won a World Series and also won the AL East the past two years, Cora appears to be something special — and he has 30 guys (25 active) buying into everything he does. Look at the moves he made in the last two games. Look at him sitting down Brock Holt after Holt produced the first cycle in postseason HISTORY.

This guy has guts. He doesn’t care.

You don’t like my bullpen? I’ll win anyway. David Price is a disaster? We can work around that. My third basemen aren’t great glove guys? Not a problem. Ian Kinsler isn’t hitting? Insert Holt. Holt goes for the cycle, back comes Kinsler for a huge hit.

They even survived the mini meltdown by Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning at the Stadium Tuesday night.

While the Yankees love their short right field porch at the Stadium, it was light-hitting catcher Christian Vazquez who reached the front row in Game 4 — while New York’s heavy-hitting catcher Gary Sanchez hit a ball in the ninth inning that was a grand slam at Fenway. That’s ironic, no? Hey, how about Nathan Eovaldi, who stuck it to his old team again Monday night. Over his head

Aaron Boone handled his pitching staff like a surgeon — one wearing two catcher’s mitts during the operation. There was the confusion over Luis Severino’s warmup time, then leaving Severino in too long and bringing Lance Lynn, a starter, in with the bases loaded and nobody out — and then he stuck with C.C. Sabathia too long because that’s the way they had it scripted.

Before Game 4, Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay, who made it clear he and Boone are friends, said, “Aaron Boone did a bad job (Monday). He had his worst game managing the Yankees at the worst time.”

Then he had another bad game — and the season is over in the Bronx.

Makeup game

Chris Sale showed up at Yankee Stadium Tuesday expecting to help his team advance — determined to erase last year’s Game 4 relief failure in the ALDS.

“I try to learn from every experience and learn, obviously, from my mistakes,” he said. “My first go at it was god-awful. It was as bad as it can get. And I think going through that made me better for this situation here and hopefully going forward. I look a lot at what happened the first time around and obviously trying to flip the script, and here we are.”

Sale and Game 4 winner Rick Porcello joined Cora on a humanitarian mission to their new manager’s native Puerto Rico after Cora got the job. That was the start of a what would become a close relationship between the manager and the rest of the team.

“For somebody who’s managing in his first year, it sure doesn’t feel like it,” Porcello said. “He seems like he’s been doing this for a long, long time. What we feel in this clubhouse is how much he really, truly, genuinely cares about us.

“It kind of sounds like a cliché. ‘Whatever’. You guys are professional athletes. Who gives a (expletive)?’ But it means a lot. His job is to put guys in a position to succeed. We may be ballplayers and maybe not the most educated people in the world, but you sense those sort of things, who’s leading the helm, and I can’t say enough good things about him. I’m so grateful to be here, to be playing for him.

“It’s not bull(expletive). It’s not anything other than I love the fact that I’m playing for Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox right now.”

Pedro Martinez was impressed with Cora bringing Sale into the game on the lefty’s throw day.

“Cora had a plan that we didn’t even know,” Pedro tweeted. “When I saw (Matt) Barnes going up the bullpen that early I got a bit nervous, but when I saw Chris Sale I was like great!!” He also tweeted, wrapping up his totally impartial feelings on the night: “Porcello, outstanding 5 innings I love everything you did today for the team!! Congratulations!! You made me proud! #yeahhh #alcsbound #redsox” He also flashed a big Red Sox “B” at the end of the tweet.

Busy time

Another crazy weekend in the Boston area. The Bruins moved their Saturday night game to 3 p.m. to allow Red Sox fans to see Game 1 at night. Then, Sunday night, the Red Sox and Patriots go head-to-head, the Sox playing Game 2 and the Patriots hosting the 5-0 Chiefs.

Finally, I dedicate today’s effort to high school friend and Londonderry resident Eric Mandelbaum, who passed away recently. We attended Francis Lewis High School in New York together and he tracked me down via Facebook and ultimately the Union Leader (as a loyal reader). He and his son, Jeremy, came to my Manchester book signing and it was great getting a chance to see them and have a nice visit. I’m just so sorry it turned out to be the only time we saw each other. RIP!

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


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