Red Sox Manager Alex Cora greets second baseman Christian Arroyo after Boston’s win against the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday in Houston. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Don’t disrespect the Boston Red Sox. It only makes them angry. And when Alex Cora’s players get angry, they get even.

Carlos Correa was the latest player to poke the playoff bear that is the 2021 Red Sox. In Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night he hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, sparking the Houston Astros to a 5-4 win.

When the ball left his bat, Correa stood and admired it. For a long time. Then he repeatedly tapped his watch, looked into his dugout, and yelled “It’s my time!”

A day later, it was Boston’s time. The Red Sox became the first team in playoff history to hit a grand slam in each of the first two innings, a stunning statement that powered Boston to a 9-5 win to even the series at one win apiece.

It was an emphatic response to Correa’s showmanship, the latest in a growing list of slights the Sox have used as additional motivation during this improbable postseason run.

Before the playoffs began, the Yankees had to inform which team they’d like to play if four teams wound up tied for the AL wild-card lead. As the third team in head-to-head record they got to decide whether they would travel to Boston or Toronto. They chose Boston. And the Red Sox heard about it, even though that scenario never played out.

The Red Sox got the last laugh, beating the Yankees in the wild-card game and ending New York’s season. Then the team’s official Twitter account got in one last dig.

“You wanted Boston? You got Boston,” the Sox tweeted.

Then it was onto the AL Division Series and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays dominated the Sox in Game 1 with a 5-0 win that featured a pair of home runs and the first straight steal of home in a postseason game since Jackie Robinson in 1955.

The crowd at Tropicana Field thoroughly enjoyed it. So did Rays players, who were sitting back eating popcorn in the dugout.

“We were winning by five runs, so let me eat my popcorn and enjoy it,” said Tampa Bay’s Nelson Cruz after the Game 1 win.

It would be the last Rays win of the series.

The Red Sox saw the snacking Rays across the field. And they heard that Tampa Bay had ordered champagne for Game 4 in Boston. You know, just in case they won it on the road.

“It gave us extra fire,” Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo told NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase. “We already knew what we had to do and understood our job, but to give us that extra motivation to really (expletive) get after it, it was great.”

As for Correa, he claims he meant no disrespect by standing and admiring his home run Friday night in Houston.

“It’s to my teammates,” said Correa after the game. “When the playoffs start, they always tell me, ‘It’s your time. Now go out there, hit homers, this and that.’ They told me to hit the watch … it just happened naturally there.”

The Red Sox aren’t going to call out a well-respected veteran like Correa about the moment. At least not yet. The time for that will be after the ALCS, if Boston is able to win the pennant and advance to the World Series.

It’s all about timing. If you’re going to declare Game 1 your time — or if you’re going to eat popcorn or order champagne — you might want to do it behind closed doors. The Red Sox are watching everything. And so far they’ve responded in dominating fashion.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN and a Lewiston High School graduate.


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