Sox don't fret G1 loss: 'No quit in this team'

October 16th, 2021

HOUSTON -- The misfires by and that were deposited high and deep into the seats by those seasoned veterans of October -- Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa -- are the type of moments that can sting or even deflate a team this time of year.

And clearly, they hurt the Red Sox in those moments in what wound up a tough 5-4 defeat to the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

But if there's one thing that's become clear about the 2021 Red Sox, it's that they don't do the whole deflation thing.

By the time Red Sox manager Alex Cora got to the interview room, he was in one of his best moods after a loss this season.

It was a signal to his team that while they are down in the series, it's nothing they can't get back up from.

"We started the season 0-3 and the sky was falling after three games [against the Orioles]," said Cora. "We have a good baseball team, and I think on a daily basis we're getting the results. We stay in the moment. You win, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow. You lose, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow.

"They've done an amazing job since Day 1 of the season, and I joke with that, but it's the truth. We lost the first three games of the season to Baltimore, and we felt like Game 4 [of the season] against the Rays was the season, to be honest with you. We've been living like this for a while, so we'll be ready for tomorrow."

In that instance Cora mentioned about the beginning of the season, his team rebounded from that humbling sweep at the hands of the eventual cellar-dwelling Orioles by sweeping the Rays in the next three games and going on a nine-game winning streak.

Most recently, the Sox lost Game 1 of the AL Division Series to the Rays, then turned the tables on a 100-win Tampa Bay squad to win the next three and advance to the ALCS.

Also, in the 2018 ALCS, Houston beat Boston in Game 1 at Fenway Park and the Red Sox turned the tables and didn't lose again in that series.

Trailing 1-0 in this best-of-seven series, the Red Sox are at least able to turn to their best starting pitcher this season in Nathan Eovaldi for Game 2. In best-of-seven postseason series with the current 2-3-2 format, teams winning Game 1 at home have gone on to win the series 62 of 94 times (66%). This excludes 2020, when the LCS and World Series were played at neutral sites.

"There is no quit in this team," said lefty . "Absolutely no quit. There is zero throttle down. Zero. Like I said before, we've got the right guy on the mound tomorrow. Nate, the guy's been magic [in October] and that's all we can ask for."

Sale hoped to regain some of his magic, but he instead had to settle for grinding through eight outs. On the plus side, his team was up, 3-1, when he departed with two outs in the bottom of the third and it was clear progress from his previous two starts, which he thought were the worst back-to-back outings of his career.

With the hottest hitter on the planet on their side in Kiké Hernández, who went off again in Game 1 with a 4-for-5 night that included two homers and a double and also a great catch in center, perhaps it's not surprising that the Red Sox were upbeat even after a loss.

"I mean, I'm having a lot of fun," said Hernández. "It's a blast. It's October, and these games tend to be a lot of fun. A lot of adrenaline, a lot of electricity in the crowd. These games are a lot of fun, and the fact that I'm playing well adds on to it a little bit."

Even after those daggers by Altuve and Correa, it was Hernández who gave the Red Sox hope when he led off the top of the ninth by mauling his second homer of the night to make it a one-run game with the Nos. 2-3-4 hitters coming up with nobody out.

"I mean, this isn't an easy place to play," said Sale. "This is a tough team. For him to keep us in that game and give us a little bit more life … We lost the game tonight, there's no doubt about it. But he gave us a little spark at the end to give us something to look forward tomorrow."

The loss was tough in the sense that the Red Sox had a chance to break it open early. Boston's offense, so prolific in the ALDS vs. the Rays, put up a three-spot in the top of the third inning.

Not only that, but 's double pushed runners on second and third with one out, giving Boston a chance to do more.

If there has been a recurring theme to Boston losses this season, it has been those games when the offense scores early and doesn't add on.

"Once again, we didn't do a good job of adding on to the lead, and at the end of the day, that's why we lost," Hernández said. "We weren't able to add any more runs. We went up 3-1, and we stayed there until the ninth inning, and we only were able to add one. That's basically it."

The Red Sox hope Saturday will be a different story and they can take a happy flight back to Boston in possession of a series split.

"This is going to be a heck of a series, and it was a heck of a Game 1," Hernández said. "We expect nothing less tomorrow. It's going to be intense, and it's going to take everything we've got to be able to get past these guys."