After David Price pitched the shortest and arguably the worst postseason start of his career in the American League Division Series, Alex Cora sat down to rewatch the game with Dustin Pedroia. He allowed four runs through 4 2/3 innings-his best playoff start in a Red Sox uniform. Things started off well for the pair; González blasted a two-run shot off the National sign above the wall to give Houston the lead in the third inning. If the Astros win the series, it will likely have a lot to do with their third baseman. Sale gave up two runs, one hit, four walks and a hit batter, and his average fastball velocity of 92 miles per hour was down 3 miles per hour from the Division Series.
In the ALCS for the first time since 2013, the Red Sox got four innings from Sale, who struggled early and allowed two runs on one hit while working around four walks.
After suffering an embarrassing loss in Game 1, Boston bounced back to knot the ALCS at one game apiece.
- Boston retook the lead in the bottom of the third inning.
- Martinez, Kinsler and Vazquez each went hitless.
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Both starters - and in particular Sale - struggled at times with walks, errors and hit batsmen with what was certainly a freakish four hour, three minute opening to the highly anticipated series. That and holding the Red Sox to just three hits on the night. They have pitching, hitting and defense in spades. In between innings, Boston manager Alex Cora was ejected by Hoye for arguing.
On the other side, when the Red Sox tied it up with two of their own off Verlander in the fifth, it was a similar breakdown in command from the starter.
"Anytime you get two quick outs then you load up the bases and give them two runs, that's not what you're looking for this time of year", Sale said. I'd say the same if it was A.J. Hinch. Price has been solid when healthy in three seasons with Boston, going 39-19 with a 3.74 ERA, but he has also solidified his reputation as an anti-clutch pitcher who wilts in big situations over that time. Houston ace Justin Verlander used his post-Game 1 press conference to highlight Bregman: "He was a vacuum cleaner over there". These are the World Champion Astros, after all.
Cora is betting that Price is too good a pitcher to continuously flop in the playoffs, that eventually he will break through and justify his confidence.
The vaunted Verlander focus certainly wasn't sidetracked by the 108-win Red Sox and the sellout crowd at Fenway. After Verlander exited with a pitch count at 90, the ultra-deep Houston bullpen took over with Ryan Pressly tossing a scoreless seventh followed by Lance McCullers Jr. dealing up a one-two-three eighth. They can see another World Series on the horizon. If Sale gets another start, he'll need to be noticeably better than he was on Saturday.