The Red Sox now know the beard was to blame


It's getting kind of crazy.

With their 4-2 win over the Indians Saturday, the Red Sox are now 18-4 in the month of June, 10 games over .500 and sitting atop the Wild Card standings by themselves.

How did this happen? Where did everything change? Pulling up an old tweet offered an eerie explanation.

In spring training Cora was was presented with the idea that if things didn't go well he might have to shave off his newly-formed facial hair. The manager dismissed such an idea, saying he learned his lesson when it came to superstitious behavior in 2019.

But by the time Cora and Co. go to the off day on May 9, they found themselves in dire straights, residing nine games under .500 and head into a series in Atlanta against the defending world champs.

Something had to be done. So off came the beard.

It was perhaps the best managerial move of the 2022 season.

After that first win in the post-beard era, Cora noted, "If our offense depends on my facial hair, we’re in big trouble." Well, the Red Sox were in big trouble, and drastic measures clearly needed to be taken. So out came the razor.

It's hard to ignore the flip-flop in results since Cora's face became beardless. During that span, the Red Sox are 36-12, with a run differential of 83. They are hitting a combined .280 with an OPS of .815, both the best in all of baseball during that span.

Rafael Devers has clearly been impacted the most by his clean-shaven manager, hitting .346 with 1.124 OPS since the big decision was made.

The starting pitchers carry a 21-8 mark and 3.49 ERA since the beard came off, with the relievers limiting opponents to a .216 batting average.

Perhaps most importantly, the execution on that off day back in early May offered a reminder of what a difference-maker Cora's decision-making can be for this team.

Flash forward to Saturday night, and you would find the manager's choices were once again on-point. This time the most impactful decisions came when bobbing and weaving his way through the Indians lineup after another solid 5 1/3-inning start from rookie Josh Winckowski.

After Jake Diekman allowed a single and four-pitch walk to lead off the seventh inning with the Red Sox leading by a run and righty hitter Myles Straw coming up, Cora came out to the mound but didn't take out his suddenly wild lefty reliever.

With righty Ryan Brasier ready to go in the Red Sox' bullpen, Diekman got Straw to fly out before going to a 3-2 count on lefty hitter Steven Kwan. The best version of the left-handed appeared at the most opportune times, with Diekman offering an A-plus slider for Strike 3, leading Cora to bounce out of the dugout once again.

Three pitches later and John Schreiber had another strikeout and the Red Sox were heading into the eight still with a lead.

Beards and bullpens. It's been a wave of good decisions.

And now, low and behold, they have both the Blue Jays and Rays in their rearview mirror.

In the words of the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Superstition is the poetry of life." Words the Red Sox are currently living by.