Sale goes in J2: “Give me the ball at once”

ST. PETERSBURG – Perhaps no one was more excited about the home run to hit Rafael Devers on Sunday than Chris Sale, who stumbled early in the game.

The Red Sox left-hander was only able to complete 1.2 stages in that start against the Nationals. Now, he’ll have another chance, thanks to that deck from Devers and the Red Sox win in the Wild Card Game.

Now, Sale will have the responsibility of taking the mound for Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on Friday against the Rays.

“It was important,” Sale mentioned. “What I saw in that meeting was a lot of energy and the boys being rude. I did nothing to help the club win; I actually put us in a very difficult situation … Obviously I appreciate it, because that could have been our last game of the year ”.

Sale, 32, made nine starts in the regular season after returning from Tommy John surgery on Aug. 14, and was 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 42.2 innings. Sale said he’s “figuring it all out on the fly,” meaning the Rays could see a good dose of four-seam fastballs and sliders.

“Not many guys can come back from Tommy John surgery and pitch in the middle of a qualifying fight and do the things he’s done,” said Boston’s Puerto Rican manager Alex Cora. “It has given us the opportunity to win. I think it has been solid. I think the change is not where he wants, but he feels that this week he made some adjustments that he could apply tomorrow. “

Opponents are hitting .450 (from 40-18) this year at Sale’s change of velocity, including two doubles and two home runs. Sale said he’s focused on his arm action and his mechanics after his tough outing against the Nationals, when he struck out seven but allowed two runs on three walks and four hits.

“I think the main flaw with [el cambio] it’s consistency, ”Sale said. “If I throw 10, four are really good, two are normal and the others are from batting practice. I have to find a way to be more consistent with my pitching. “

Two of Sale’s comeback starts were against the Rays. He pitched six two-run innings in the Red Sox’s 3-2 victory on Sept. 1 at Tropicana Field, where he is 5-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) in his career.

Sale returned to face Tampa Bay in his next outing, allowing five runs (one earned) and 10 hits in 3.2 innings, in Boston’s 11-10 loss at Fenway Park on Sept. 6. Sale mentioned that Sunday’s comeback is a good indicator of what the team can accomplish in the playoffs.

“We saw the scoreboard; we knew what we had to do, ”Sale mentioned. “We knew we had our backs against the wall. We said to ourselves, ‘We have to win this game,’ and we did. That says a lot about what we have in the cave ”.

Although Sale’s focus is on Game 2, the mound could be a big factor later in the series. Cora said he will be careful about using Sale as a reliever, although in 2017 and 2018 he used him from the bullpen at times in the postseason, including Game 5 of the 2018 World Series.

“Absolutely,” Sale mentioned. “I think that experience helps a lot in this situation. There is no reason to think that I have to rest my arm sitting on a sofa. This is baseball. It doesn’t matter when or where, just hit the ball ”.