Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale was good, but was he left in the game too long by manager Alex Cora?
The Red Sox were blown out by the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS on Wednesday. The Sox offense was completely lifeless after looking like a juggernaut in Game’s 2 and 3. Boston will now head to Houston for Game 6 on Friday on the verge of elimination.
The only bright spot for the Red Sox during Game 5 was Chris Sale. The left-hander gave it his all and left it all on the field.
Sale would pitch 5 ⅓ innings, allowing four runs – only two of them were earned. He also surrendered three hits while walking two and striking out seven batters.
Yordan Alvarez would homer off Chris Sale
Yordan Alvarez to the Green Monster 🚀 pic.twitter.com/xN81HaHqlc
— MLB (@MLB) October 20, 2021
Sale started the game throwing hard and dialing up his fastball. Unfortunately Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez smashed a ball into the Green Monster seats giving Houston an early 1-0 lead.
Sale would settle down from there but did get into some trouble along the way. He would have an intense fourth inning but was able to get out of it. Sale would come back out for the fifth inning where he would make quick work of the Astros bottom portion of the lineup.
Did Alex Cora mismanage Chris Sale during Game 5?
The second guessing would begin for the sixth inning. Sale was at 79 pitches, his highest total in roughly a month. He had only thrown 91 pitches combined in his last two starts. Sale was set to face the top of the Astros lineup for the third time.
That would ultimately be where Sale would hit a brick wall.
“I had to leave everything out there,” Sale said. “I told myself coming into this game I had a job to do and didn’t get it done. But I left my nuts out there on the mound tonight, that’s for damn sure.”
The Red Sox have typically avoided allowing their pitchers to face an order for the third time.
During the regular season, Boston starters allowed a .301 average, 27th in MLB, and .908 OPS, 28th, when facing a lineup the third time. The numbers didn’t bode well for Sale but manager Alex Cora stuck by his ace and it cost his club.
Alvarez would make Chris Sale pay
Sale would start the inning by walking Jose Altuve. Astros’ Michael Brantley would make soft contact on a ground ball that was fielded by Rafael Devers.
Devers throw wasn’t handled by first baseman Kyle Schwarber who dropped the ball.
When looking at the replay, Schwarber appeared to be more focused on Altuve over at third than making the clean out.
Alvarez would come to the dish for the third time against Sale and he made him pay. Sale would throw a 94-mph fastball that Alvarez would dump into left field scoring both runners.
I really don’t understand how Alex Cora could leave Chris Sale in there to face Alvarez for a third time
Alvarez has owned Sale at the dish tonight, 2-2 and just made the Sox pay#RedSox | #DirtyWater
— Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique) October 20, 2021
“He was throwing the ball great,” the manager said. “There was some weak contact throughout the night. He was in command. He was throwing the ball great. The stuff was really good. He was throwing 97 mph with a good slider.”
Sale shouldn’t have faced Alvarez in the sixth inning
The media questioned Cora following the game asking why Sale was left out there for the sixth inning. Cora would respond with “I understand what people think, but there were two lefties coming up in that pocket,” Cora said.
In nine regular season starts this season, left-handed hitters were just 4-for-26 (.154) with a .346 OPS against Sale. The numbers were in Sale’s favor as he was about to face Alvarez. However the stats of how Sox pitchers faced a lineup for the third time weren’t and Cora ignored that. Cora also stated walking Alvarez with first base open was never considered nor an option.
Alvarez during the regular season hit lefties very well posting a .283 average and a .881 OPS. You have to tip your hat to the kid (Alvarez), to the guy, he didn’t try too much and he goes the other way,” said Cora.
Sale left it all on the mound
that's it. that's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/KSLJbJ2EP5
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 20, 2021
Overall, this was Sale’s best postseason start. It was ruined by his offenses inability to generate any offense. Cora‘a decision to leave Sale in the game for the sixth inning proved costly and now Boston is one win away from elimination.
Game 6 is Friday night from Houston at Minute Maid Park. Sale has made it clear to his club he’s ready to pitch whenever over the last two games. “I’ll pitch tomorrow if I have to. I got nothing going on for six months…Everyone is available,” said Sale.
– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)
Feature image courtesy of MassLive.com
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