Red Sox

Sale allows seven earned runs in rough postseason debut

Sale allows seven earned runs in rough postseason debut

HOUSTON — If you go by earned runs allowed, and what other bottom line is there, Chris Sale’s postseason debut Thursday afternoon was one of the eight worst starts of his career.

The Red Sox ace was charged with seven earned runs for the eighth time in his career — one off his career-high — in a brutal beginning to the American League Division Series. 

With the Sox trailing the Astros 5-2, John Farrell oddly chose to send Sale back out for the sixth inning, and allowed the first two batters to reach. Both scored later in the inning on a Brian McCann single against Joe Kelly, upping Sale’s earned-run total from five to seven once he was out of the game.

The only other time Sale allowed seven runs in 2017 was against the Indians, in August.

From the get-go, Sale was in trouble, allowing back-to-back home runs to the second and third hitters he faced, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve for a 2-0 deficit. The Sox rallied to tie up in the fourth inning, but Sale immediately gave the lead back in the bottom half of the frame, on a two-out, two-run double from Marwin Gonzalez. 

Altuve’s second homer of the game, another solo shot, made it 5-2 in the fifth.

The decision to send Sale back out for the sixth is more confusing in the context of a potential start on short rest. If the Sox want to go that route, having him throw 100 pitches even — he was at 89 pitches through five — doesn’t help. 

There was a feeling going into the day that eight days of rest would help Sale’s command after a September that followed a disconcerting pattern: one good start, one bad. In the first inning, he was ahead 0-2 on the first three batters. The very first one, George Springer, struck out.

Sale struck out six and walked just one.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.