After ‘Heavy’ COVID-Hit Day, Red Sox Salvage Win With Just 3 Hits; ‘I Managed It Like a Playoff Game,’ Alex Cora Says

Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox just barely edged out the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night, 2-1, in the series opener. The team has dealt with positive COVID tests the past two days and manager Alex Cora had no interest in dropping their second straight game.

After Nathan Eovaldi, the team used a combination of top relievers in Matt Strahm, Hansel Robles, Jake Diekman, and Garrett Whitlock for 4.1 innings.

“They deserved that… There’s certain days that, you know what, the human element takes over,” Cora said of the decision to use the top arms in the bullpen. “It seemed like a playoff game right? I managed it like a playoff game. It was a very heavy day for everybody, a lot of stuff going on, and you know what? I went for the win.”

The Red Sox almost had another scare to add to the COVID chaos. With one out in the top half of the ninth, Bobby Dalbec stretched to his right, and made a throw sitting on the ground to Whitlock, who ran over to cover first base. They got the out, but Whitlock tripped and slid before getting back up and stepping on first.

After he hobbled around a bit, the training staff came out but it seemed to be nothing serious.

“He’s doing OK, he just had a raspberry, or a strawberry, whatever they call it,” said Cora. “I asked him, ‘When was the last time you slide?,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah when I got that hit last year in Atlanta.’ He slid into second I guess.”

Boston put on a defensive showcase Tuesday, with Chrisitan Arroyo — who’s still learning the position — flashing the leather a few times while Dalbec’s play to Whitlock was the most notable among others. With just three hits, Boston used Wong’s sac fly to propel them past Toronto in the series opener.

“That was a great play from Bobby,” Cora said. “We played good defense today. That was an all-around game. Obviously the offense, we got to get going — and we will. But, overall defensively, Wonger did a good job, man at second, no outs, Jackie (Bradley Jr.) hits a ground ball, gets a sac fly. All around, it was good baseball today — a great baseball game.”

Eovaldi and Wong

This isn’t the first time Eovaldi and Wong have been 60 feet apart from each other.

“They’ve been throwing bullpens — the last two years they’ve been together,” said Cora. “He knows him. He’s done a good job with him whenever he catches him, and overall he’s a good defensive catcher. He retains information, and we like what he does behind the plate.”

The two both hail from Houston.

Eovaldi went 4.2 innings allowing seven hits on one run and six punchouts. In Wong’s four career starts behind the plate, the 25-year-old has caught Eovaldi in each of those games. If you take away a five-run performance last August, Eovaldi has let up just two runs across 19.1 innings with Wong behind the plate.

“We were able to work a lot in the offseason, so he’s real familiar with all of my pitches and stuff but I felt like he handled everybody else, really good out there tonight,” Eovaldi said. “I felt like he was sticking a lot of really good pitches and he got a couple of calls for me… I felt like he did a great job.”

The right-hander couldn’t have been any more complimentary of the catcher involved in the Mookie Betts deal.

“Can’t really say enough good things about the way Connor handled himself out there today.”

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