Chris Sale did not have his best stuff in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. It was clear to anyone watching, including his counterpart, Justin Verlander. The Houston Astros ace recognized Sale was “obviously” not feeling as fresh as usual, but noted he did “such a tremendous job bending but not breaking.”
“I have a tremendous respect for what he was able to do tonight and go out there and keep those guys in the ballgame without his best stuff,” Verlander told reporters postgame.
Sale lasted just four innings for the Sox on Saturday night, giving up a season-high four walks along with two runs. The 29-year-old only allowed one hit, but it was a costly one. Sale loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning, then watched a George Springer rocket beat Eduardo Núñez at third base for a two-run single.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 14, 2018
“I just lost command,” Sale said. “Kind of out there searching for it for a little bit. Just do the best you can to kind of corral it in and limit the damage and get out of there as quick as possible.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled Sale after he retired the final four batters he faced, three by strikeout. The rest of Boston’s pitching staff fared no better once Sale left the game, issuing a collective 10 walks as a team and hitting three batters.
Per @baseball_ref the Red Sox are the first team in playoff history to walk 10 and hit three.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 14, 2018
“It’s just one of those things that happen,” Sale said. “You get out there and you’re battling yourself. That was definitely the case.”
Cora noted “it was hard” for the team’s ace against the Astros’ lineup, but added the last inning “was a lot better.”
“Velocity-wise he finished strong,” Cora said. “He wanted to go out again, and I was like ‘No. It’s going to be a long series and we need you.'”
Josh Reddick on Chris Sale: "It’s just a lot easier when he’s throwing 92-93 as opposed to 97. It’s not a comfortable at-bat but he’s finding ways to get outs. Anytime he’s not 100 percent you feel like you have an advantage."
— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) October 14, 2018
The Red Sox turn to beleaguered starter David Price to level the series on Sunday at 7:09 p.m.