Opponent or moment? Alex Cora not a believer in clutch

Evan Drellich
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON - The subject matter should pertain to David Price's struggles in October, Alex Bregman's successes, and everything in between.

Alex Cora on Thursday was asked if he has seen different abilities from players to handle big moments in his time in the game, about the notion of being clutch - a topic that's steadily driven a level of debate for a while, because it can be hard to prove statistically.

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"I don't know if there's a scale. I think it's just us talking about it," the Red Sox manager said. "People have bad games and good games. I don't know, I think we talk about, like in basketball, LeBron James. People have two sides of LeBron James. Is he the greatest? Or [some disagree because] he doesn't perform in the playoffs. LeBron James is a pretty good player, you know? I really don't believe in stuff like that. 

"I just believe that there's guys that execute and there's guys that don't. But as far as like clutch and showing up or not, I don't know. It's the same thing [this time of year], it's just a different spotlight. Now everybody's watching. There's only two games a day and everybody's paying attention. But I'm not a big believer of like, he's clutch, he's not clutch. I don't believe in that."

Price, Cora's scheduled starter for Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday night at Fenway Park, has a 6.03 ERA as a playoff starter. Cora suggested that Price's short outing in the ALDS against the Yankees was owed to the opponent.

"The whole season he kind of struggled against the Yankees," Cora said. "It just seems like as far as game-planning or matching up with them, it didn't work this year. That's the way I see it. Like, Rick [Porcello] against Toronto, it wasn't good."

Porcello this season allowed 21 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays, good for a 9.15 ERA in four starts. Price allowed 18 earned runs and nine homers in 15 2/3 innings against the Yankees in the regular season (10.34 ERA) and three more runs and two homers in his 1 2/3-inning ALDS start. 

"Sometimes you struggle in the season against a team," Cora said. "You don't match up well or they just plan for you, and they perform against that pitcher. I saw what happened last year against the Astros [with Price]. He was actually the best pitcher in that series last year. I know he was coming out of the bullpen, but what he did was good to see, now. I think he's going to make some adjustments and he'll be fine."

Between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, including the playoffs, Price has a 2.70 ERA and .198 average allowed against the Astros. He fanned 30 in 26 2/3 innings while allowing 20 hits, nine walks and three home runs.

Price pitched 6 2/3 innings of relief without an earned run in last year's ALDS against the Astros.

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