HOUSTON — Chris Sale’s not into scouting reports. He prefers an empty mind over a head full of data and tendencies, and that’s not changing for Game 1 of the American League Division Series, his first career postseason start.
"I don't want to put any more emphasis on this than there already is," Sale said Wednesday at Minute Maid Park. "This is obviously playoff baseball, so it comes with a lot more attention. But for me I'm going to pitch the same game, I'm going to go out there and do the same things I've always done. I'm not going to reach for another avenue that I haven't reached for in my entire career. So I don't think now would be the time to start doing that."
Catcher Sandy Leon, who’s been with Sale for all but one start this year, on Thursday will handle the pre-game planning meeting with pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Dana LeVangie. Just like always.
This is where having some recent history with the Astros — but keeping Sale himself away from their view — can benefit the Sox.
"Sandy had the opportunity to catch against these guys this past weekend, so I think a lot of people talk about you know the awkwardness of us playing them right after we just played them and now it’s the playoffs," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "But I think it can allow us, and them to for that matter, to see each other. A lot of times seeing, experiencing it in person is a lot better than you know watching video.
"Our advance scouts do a tremendous job, but there’s nothing like seeing it on your own. We’ll sit down with Sandy as we always do. And I think that you know, the only thing that will be any different, we’ll be able to get a little more feedback from him as to what he saw and how Chris’ stuff will play against certain hitters, certain swings."
Both Sale and Willis think the extra rest in between starts — Sale had eight days off — should be a help.
"In September, you know, it’s been brought to our attention, it’s kind of like an every-other-start-type of thing, I do feel like," Willis said, referring to Sale’s inconsistent month. "He was prepared to pitch Sunday. But I feel like you know, not having to, and being able to get on the mound on Monday, fine tune things a little bit, you can’t help but to think that’s going to be a good thing."
Sox manager John Farrell did not announce a starter for Game 3, or any further roster choices.
- Dustin Pedroia said the time off has helped. Eduardo Nunez’s usage hasn’t been determined yet. Both players were on the field going through what appeared a normal routine for Wednesday’s workout.
- Astros manager A.J. Hinch expects his bullpen will have an Andrew Miller-like figure as well. Lance McCullers may be that guy. "It happens for every team that gets there. So who is our guy going to be, is it going to be Lance, does it become [Chris] Devenski, [Joe] Musgrove, [Brad] Peacock, [Charlie] Morton, I have no idea," Hinch said. "I don't care who it is. I care that somebody steps up and outperforms expectations in a role that they're not used to. Lance has every bit the weapon to get as many outs as he can. He's pitched in a playoff game before. Where we deem that the most important and what outs we think are going to be the most important is going to be discussed over the next couple days — or next day, communicated to him, and then I'll put him in there."