Chris Sale, Red Sox falter in ALCS Game 1 as pressure shifts to David Price

Chris Sale, Red Sox falter in ALCS Game 1 as pressure shifts to David Price

October 14, 2018 0 By admin

This isn’t how the Boston Red Sox envisioned the American League Championship Series starting.
After winning a league-best 108 games during the regular season, their backs are immediately against after losing Game 1 against the Houston Astros, 7-2, and watching ace Chris Sale struggle to find the strike zone.

Sale only lasted four innings in his Game 1 start, issuing a season-high four walks while hitting one batter. The rest of Boston’s pitchers were just as erratic. Collectively, the pitching staff issued 10 walks, which is the most by a Red Sox pitching staff in a postseason game since 1999, and hit three batters to boot. Now they’ll turn to David Price, who famously has not won a postseason start during his otherwise productive career.

In zeroing in on Sale’s struggles, the 29-year-old left-hander never looked uncomfortable during the outing. He showed notable a decrease in velocity from his Game 1 start in the ALDS against the New York Yankees.

This is something worth watching.

Chris Sale’s first-inning fastball velocity tonight: 91, 89, 90, 92, 94, 93, 93, 90, 92, 89.

His first-inning fastball velocity in his ALDS start: 95, 94, 93, 95, 95, 96, 95, 95, 96, 97.

Average tonight: 91.3 mph
Average in ALDS: 95.1 mph

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 14, 2018

Sale’s command proved to be the bigger issue. He couldn’t get his fastball, change up or slider over the plate with any consistency, leading to some messy early innings.

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale tied a season high with four walks in a four-inning outing during ALCS Game 1. (AP)

To his credit, Sale only allowed one hit. But it was damaging. After loading the bases with two outs in the second inning, postseason monster George Springer ripped a two-run single to give Houston the early lead.

2 outs? Bases loaded? NBD for George Springer! @astros up 2-0 in the 2nd! pic.twitter.com/WcQC2dd3yA

— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 14, 2018

Sale needed 50 pitches to get through two innings. He showed slightly improved efficiency in the third and fourth innings. Sale retired the final four batters he faced, including three by strikeout. That’s when manager Alex Cora decided to let Sale leave on a high note, while perhaps preserving him for a relief outing in Game 3. Sale finished with five strikeouts and 86 pitches.

Respect to Chris Sale. He’s got D-level stuff tonight, compared to what he’s got when he’s at his best, and he still has punched out five through four innings and allowed just one hit. Astros have missed too many opportunities. They’re lucky Justin Verlander has dealt thus far.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 14, 2018

All things considered, Sale did do a great job of surviving without anything close to his best stuff. Unfortunately, the team’s bullpen couldn’t say the same. Houston scored five unanswered runs against Boston’s bullpen after the Red Sox briefly tied the game.

Now the Red Sox will turn to Price in what could amount to a must-win Game 2 on Sunday night. Price’s postseason struggles have been well documented. As a starter, he is 0-9 in the playoffs with a 6.03 ERA. As a starter, Price’s teams are 0-10 in the postseason.

The odds say Price should be due for some positive postseason regression stat wise and result wise. How could he not be, right?

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David Price has his biggest and best chance to rewrite his postseason narrative in ALCS Game 3. (AP)

Then again, that probably should have happened a few starts ago. History says Price just can’t get it done in the postseason. And who’s to argue with history, right?

Honestly, we don’t know what we’ll see on Sunday night. All that will really matter is the Monday morning narrative, after Price has taken the mound and done his best to rewrite it. That will tell us where this story goes next. But rest assured, if ever there was a time and game for Price to shake this burden, it’s this one. In Boston. With the chance to potentially save the Red Sox season.

More from Yahoo Sports:

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