Alex Cora knows first-hand the way things change in October. That's why the Boston Red Sox manager wants to keep everything the same for his club.
Routine served Boston well during the regular season. Under their rookie skipper, the Red Sox posted a franchise-best 108 wins and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
They will enter the American League Division Series on Friday with two AL MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, plus Cy Young Award candidate Chris Sale and former Cy Young winners David Price and Rick Porcello - both coming off solid regular seasons.
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The Red Sox won't have an ALDS opponent until Wednesday when the Yankees host the Athletics in the wild-card game. Cora said the team will gather for dinner that night and watch together. Other than that, their preparations will be the same - from meetings, to batting practices, to bullpen sessions.
"That's why I feel they're gonna be fine, because nothing's gonna change," Cora said.
Boston is coming off consecutive first-round postseason exits, winning just one game in those two series.
Cora was an assistant coach with the Houston Astros last year when they opened the ALDS against Boston with back-to-back 8-2 victories on their way to a 3-1 series win and eventual World Series title.
"It's always good to have the last at-bat if you are down - no doubt about it," Cora said of the benefits of opening at home. "We love it here... The atmosphere should be loud and we'll take advantage of it."
Under Cora, the Red Sox have become an aggressive offensive team with dependable power in the middle of the lineup - two of their biggest deficiencies over the last two postseasons.
Martinez was given a $110 million, five-year contract this offseason specifically to help in those areas and has come through in a big way.
He ended the regular season batting .330 with 43 home runs and 130 RBIs. The only other Red Sox to hit at least .330 with 40-plus homers and 130 RBIs are Ted Williams (1949) and Jimmie Foxx (1936, 1938). The last major leaguer to do it was Miguel Cabrera (2013).
And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Betts and Martinez became the first MLB teammates to finish first and second in batting average and slugging percentage since 1904, when Pittsburgh's Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke did it.
Betts also has other motivations entering his third postseason.
He hit just .200 in his first postseason in 2016 before bouncing back to hit .313 last postseason. But he has yet to record a home run or RBI.
He is coming off his best regular season as a major leaguer, with career-bests in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.640) and home runs (32).
"I think it's one of those things where you gotta go out and do what you've been doing all year - don't try to do anything more or take anything way," Betts said. "Just see the game the same way we played 162."
Boston won its regular-season series with the Yankees 10-9, but went just 2-4 against Oakland. The Athletics' Sean Manaea no-hit Boston in April, though he's now out for the season with an injury.
Jackie Bradley Jr. said Boston has no preference for who it faces in Fenway Park on Friday.
"The team that wins," he said.