With the Red Sox leading the Yankees 4-1 in Tuesday's Game 4 of the ALDS, Boston manager Alex Cora brought Sale into the game in the eighth inning. The Red Sox held a 2-1 lead in the series as well, meaning a win would advance them to the ALCS against the Astros.
Cora was not taking any chances at that lead slipping away. Sale needed just 13 pitches to retire the side in order, striking out one batter.
Before Tuesday, Sale had not entered a game in the eighth inning or later since May 8, 2012.
Chris Sale has entered a game in the 8th inning or later for the first time since May 8, 2012. pic.twitter.com/qATvQu8XIS
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 10, 2018
Of course, Sale is no stranger to pitching in relief. In 80 games as a reliever, the left-hander has a 2.55 ERA, striking out 112 batters in 95 1/3 innings.
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel took over for Sale in the ninth inning, almost blowing the Red Sox lead. Kimbrel gave up two runs on one hit, two walks and a hit by pitch.
The Yankees had the tying run on second with former Cubs' prospect Gleyber Torres at the plate, though Torres grounded out softly to third base to end the threat.
We're not saying the Red Sox should have left Sale in, as Kimbrel is one of the game's best closers. But hey, they nearly suffered a meltdown of epic proportions.
Anyhow, the Red Sox will face off against the Astros in the ALCS. Game 1 is Saturday in Boston, with Sale being a likely candidate to start.