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Red Sox manager Alex Cora grateful to Astros

Alex Cora led the Red Sox to 108

Alex Cora led the Red Sox to 108 wins in his first year as a manager. Credit: Jim McIsaac

If you’re skeptical of the reality that baseball is a small world, consider: If Alex Cora’s Red Sox reach the ALCS, he’ll face off with his old club, the Astros.

A year ago, Cora was the Astros’ bench coach as Houston beat the Red Sox (ALDS) and Yankees (ALCS) before toppling the Dodgers in the World Series. It was during a visit to New York during the ALCS that Cora interviewed with Boston bosses to be Red Sox manager.

A year later, Cora found himself back in New York, again trying to beat the Yankees. The Astros — who hired former Yankees third-base coach Joe Espada to replace Cora — await the winner of Red Sox-Yankees.

And, Cora believes, he would not be here this year if he had not been there last year.

“Without that year coaching, no way I’d feel this comfortable this year,” Cora said. “It was such a great learning experience, from spring training all the way to L.A. It was constant learning. They’re a great organization, and [the Astros’ leaders], they do an outstanding job throughout the season, and I learned a lot from them.”

Tuesday evening, prior to Game 4, Cora exemplified the “one game at a time” mindset. What would it mean to win the series at Yankee Stadium? Plenty, Cora said. New York City is New York City, was his parents’ home for 30 years and remains the home for lots of folks from his native Puerto Rico. But winning it at Fenway Park would work, too. Then they’d be on to Houston, then perhaps the Dodgers or Brewers.

“We just want to win the series,” Cora said. “Our goal is to win 11 games in October, basically. Right now we’re close to taking one more step, and then we’ll talk about the next one.”

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