Livid Alex Cora ejected; Mookie Betts plays second base

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BOSTON — Between Alex Cora's first ejection as a Red Sox manager, Mookie Betts' first game at second base in four years and yet another Steve Pearce home run, the early innings were juiced Friday night at Fenway Park.

The third pitch of Friday night's game from Rick Porcello, after two straight strikes, was a 91 mph fastball that hit Yanks leadoff man Brett Gardner.

Luis Severino, the Yankees' ace, put his first pitch of the night in the bottom of the first inning at Mookie Betts' chin. Betts got out of the way, but was knocked down.

The Red Sox dugout didn't like it — there's not much tolerance for message pitches up in the zone, near the head — and manager Alex Cora led the chorus. Cora, who had not been ejected as a manager prior to Friday, was screaming at the Yankees' dugout before coming out to express his outrage at home-plate umpire Adam Hamari. First-base crew chief Phil Cuzzi intervened.

Once he got to the dish, Cora didn't last long, unloading. 

Come the top of the third inning, a weakened Sox bench resulted in Betts moving back to second base. Ian Kinsler was pulled left hamstring tightness. Blake Swihart went to the disabled list, and Xander Bogaerts apparently remains unavailable as he comes back from being hit on his right hand.

So Betts, who takes infield all the time and played second base in the minor leagues and for 14 games in 2014 as a big leaguer, moved back to his old position for the night.

There's some risk involved, even though Betts is a fantastic athlete familiar with the position. He's arguably the best player in baseball, and the potential for injury turning a double play always exists — and a high slide might be more likely in a game where tempers are flaring. 

The Sox must be under the impression Bogaerts isn't far away, because playing with a short roster at a crucial point in the season is never optimal.

Steve Pearce, playing first base, has second base experience, with 33 games and 27 starts in his career. Moreland came in off the bench to play first, Pearce moved to right field and Betts to second

Cora on Thursday night noted Pearce's ability to play second. 

"We can put him at second, we can put him in the outfield," Cora said. "He’s a good player. He prepares."

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