Rather than call one of Boston’s relievers from the bullpen, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted for staff ace Chris Sale to pitch the eighth inning against the Yankees. Sale had previously started Game 1 of the ALDS for the Red Sox on Friday, pitching 5 1/3 innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out eight.
Chris Sale tosses perfect inning on short rest
Tuesday’s appearance was on just three days rest, but Sale showed little fatigue while dispatching the Yankees in order. Gleyber Torres came the closest to a hit with a warning track fly to center to lead off the inning, Andrew McCutchen grounded out to third base and Aaron Hicks struck out looking. Sale topped out at 96 mph according to Statcast and threw 13 pitches in the inning.
However, that was all the action Sale would get. Cora understandably went with a more conventional move for the ninth inning, pitching All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel to close out the Yankees.
A noticeably wild Kimbrel made things a little more interesting than they should have been, but the Red Sox walked away with a 4-3 win and a ticket to the ALCS.
What Alex Cora risked with his Chris Sale move
It all ended well in the end for the Red Sox, but Kimbrel’s rocky inning left them quite close to what would have been a devastating loss. Using Sale in Game 4 would have compounded that loss.
The team took a similar gambit with Game 4 starter Rick Porcello in Game 1, pitching the right-hander in the eighth inning of a 5-4 win. Porcello still managed to start Game 4 on three days rest, but Sale starting Game 5 might have been a tall order for the southpaw. Without Sale, the Red Sox would have had one starter left on normal rest for a hypothetical winner-take-all game: David Price, who didn’t exactly inspire confidence in Game 2.
Thankfully, Red Sox fans won’t have to worry about that.
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