Red Sox manager Alex Cora offered further clarification Saturday as to why closer Craig Kimbrel has been struggling so mightily of late.
In the hours after Game 4, retired reliever Eric Gagne texted Cora, notifying him that Kimbrel appeared to be tipping his pitches. Cora said he, too, noticed some concerning signs.
“When he was warming up and he had his hands at the belt,” Cora said, “I looked at the [Houston] dugout and there was a lot of looking around. I was like, ‘yeah.’
“We knew that coming into [Game 5] and he was going to make an adjustment and you saw. All of a sudden they were taking fastballs right down the middle. They took some bad swings on sliders.
“Too bad that it took us so long.”
The most notable outing of Kimbrel’s roller-coaster stretch came against New York in Game 4 of the ALCS. When the righty got ahead in the count on Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, he threw him a handful of solid sliders.
Sanchez suspiciously laid off the offerings.
“The stuff was always there,” said Cora. “If you go back to the New York game, he had Sanchez in an 0-2 count and [Sanchez] took some good sliders. Great sliders. Houston, they took some good sliders. too.”
Owen Pence can be reached at email@example.com.