On Fenway Park’s first base concourse is a wall bearing more than 100 pictures. There’s one for each of Boston’s victories in 2018. The number is up to 116 now that the Red Sox have piled up eight postseason wins.
It was inspired by a similar feature that first-year manager Alex Cora commissioned for his office. Team officials decided to replicate the “win wall” in a public space for the playoffs.
Fans have flocked to it.
Hours before the Red Sox and Dodgers played Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night, some took turns taking pictures in front of the wall. One parked himself next to a photo from Game 1, just under the words “11 more” — a reference to the 11 postseason wins a non-wild-card team needs to secure a title. The shot featured Eduardo Nunez rounding first base with his fist in the air after hitting a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning of Boston’s 8-4 victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday night.
“That’s my guy,” the fan said in Spanish as someone in his party snapped a cellphone photo.
Cora approached team photographer Billie Weiss before the start of the season with a proposal. He wanted to commemorate every win from his rookie year on a wall in his office and Weiss acquiesced.
Eventually the defining moments of Cora’s first year as manager totaled a franchise-record 108 wins. There were more photos than there was wall space. The Red Sox had to make use of another wall in Cora’s office.
Asked before the World Series began, if he had enough room left to display every win the Red Sox would need to win the team’s fourth championship since 2004, Cora said, “Yeah, we do. We do have room for four.
“It’s cool, man,” Cora continued. “That wall, you start looking around, it's like, ‘Wow, that game and that game and that game.’ It’s powerful, to say the least.”
Urias to return to Dodgers rotation in 2019
Julio Urias, the Dodgers’ former top pitching prospect, has thrown exclusively as a reliever this season as he makes his way back from shoulder surgery in 2017. Manager Dave Roberts indicated the team still plans to return Urias to starting in 2019.
“I don’t see him in this role for 2019,” Roberts said. “I think that he’s a starting pitcher. And so our goal is to build him up as a starter, to help us on this club at some point next year. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. I’ll take Julio in any capacity right now.”
Urias pitched in only three big- eague games during the regular season. His appearance in Game 1 on Wednesday was his fifth outing of the postseason. Roberts admitted he did not envision Urias contributing this October.
“He’s a very confident, tough young man, and very talented,” Roberts said. “So he’s shown anything is possible, and he’s helped us win baseball games.”
Urias posted a 3.39 ERA in 77 innings as a 19-year-old rookie in 2016.
By using his reserves so aggressively, Roberts often runs out of position players. His emergency catcher, behind Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes, is infielder Max Muncy, who has never caught in a professional setting. Roberts said his two choices were Muncy or Yasiel Puig. Informed that the public would love to see Puig catch, Roberts responded: “I hope that doesn’t happen. We won’t be in a good spot.”
Sorry, Taco Bell
Major League Baseball runs an annual promotion in conjunction with Taco Bell for the World Series: If a player steals a base, the chain agrees to give out free tacos. Boston outfielder Mookie Betts triggered it by swiping second base off Clayton Kershaw in Game 1.
Red Sox utility man Brock Holt doesn’t really care.
After the Red Sox won the World Series opener Tuesday night, he said he would not indulge because “you’ll end up on the toilet all night.”
On Wednesday, Holt felt a smidgen of remorse for his postgame denigration of Taco Bell. No one from the company had contacted him yet — he doesn’t have a Twitter account and he hasn’t received messages on his Instagram page, he said — but he acknowledged his statement might have been unfair.
“I mean, that's just my opinion,” Holt said, fighting a smile. “I'm sure a lot of other people love it. … I apologize to Taco Bell. I'm sure a lot of people will get their free tacos, though.”
Puig gets a dressing down
The Dodgers were not charged an error in Game 1, but they made a variety of mistakes in the field. David Freese could not secure a foul popup in the first inning, and Austin Barnes could not throw out a runner at second base. Brian Dozier could not turn a pair of crucial double plays, and Joc Pederson could not track down a bloop double in left field.
But the only play that merited a conversation between players and the coaching staff, Roberts said, was Puig ignoring the cutoff man and throwing home on a single by outfielder Andrew Benintendi in the first inning. The throw allowed Benintendi to advance to second base, where he scored on a single by designated hitter J.D. Martinez.
“The grass is wet, grounder to the outfield, plus runner, you’ve got to keep the double play in order,” Roberts said.