Boston Red Sox

How Red Sox ace Chris Sale's injury impacts A's MLB playoff chances

How Red Sox ace Chris Sale's injury impacts A's MLB playoff chances

The Boston Red Sox's playoff hopes already were on life support. This might be the death blow.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale has been placed on the 10-day injured list with elbow inflammation, and will seek a second opinion from famous surgeon Dr. James Andrews. That's never a good sign, considering Andrews is best known for performing surgery on damaged ligaments.

The defending World Series champions entered Sunday 6 1/2 games out of the second AL wild-card spot with just 37 games remaining. That's already a difficult hill to climb, and if Sale is forced to miss the rest of the season, it could become impossible for the Red Sox.

Sale, 30, has finished in the top six of the AL Cy Young voting in each of the last seven seasons, but this year hasn't gone nearly as well for the left-hander, who's just 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA. However, his stuff still is dominant, as he has struck out 218 batters in 147 1/3 innings.

Without Sale, Boston's already shaky rotation becomes an even larger concern. The Red Sox don't have a single starter with an ERA under four, and two of their regulars are over five.

[RELATED: Bassitt saves tired A's bullpen]

From the A's standpoint, the Sale injury likely shrinks the wild-card race to just three teams: Oakland, Tampa Bay, and the runner-up in the AL Central, either Cleveland or Minnesota. The A's are just half a game behind the Rays for the second position and 1 1/2 games back of the Indians for the top spot.

The A's lead the Red Sox by six games and probably have one less team to worry about now.

Pablo Sandoval thankful for second chance with Giants after Red Sox stint

Pablo Sandoval thankful for second chance with Giants after Red Sox stint

After helping the Giants win the 2014 World Series -- the franchise's third title in five seasons -- Pablo Sandoval left the Bay Area to sign a massive contract with the Boston Red Sox. But it wasn't the happy marriage he envisioned.

Sandoval struggled with injuries during his time in Boston, never living up to the five-year, $95 million contract the Red Sox gave him. It came to a head in 2017, when the Red Sox decided it was in their best interest to cut Sandoval -- believing his career to be all but over -- and eat the remaining $49.5 million left on the deal. 

After the Red Sox kicked him to the curb, Sandoval was labeled one of the biggest free-agent busts in recent history. That was a blow to the third baseman's ego.

"Being let go by the Red Sox hurt, especially because I was coming back from an injury and going through so many things in my life," Sandoval told ESPN's Marly Rivera. "I am a person who loves this sport. This is my passion. Besides my family, there is nothing I love more, and baseball has given me many blessings.

"But I also put in a lot of work and made many sacrifices, and I wasn't ready to leave the game. I wanted to prove to everyone, especially my children and my family, and set the example for my children, that in spite of the things that may happen to you, you always have to fight on."

Despite being cut by the Red Sox, blasted by the Boston media and fan base for his weight and lack of performance, Sandoval used his time in Boston as a way to grow.

"Being in Boston was a learning experience," Sandoval said. "The truth is that it was a great organization, and I have nothing against [the Red Sox]. And the fans, they are demanding, they want to see their players contribute. They want to see the best of them. And I learned from that."

Once he was cast aside by the Red Sox, Sandoval was hoping for one more chance to prove he still could hack it at the big league level. Of course, the Giants and manager Bruce Bochy still believed in him. They agreed to bring him back, but with the understanding that he was coming back to a different role on a different Giants team than the one he had left. 

"It was a learning opportunity because I had to start from scratch, forget what I had accomplished in the past and now try to do something different and accept a new role [as a bench player]," Sandoval told Rivera. "That has been difficult for me, to accept that role after playing every day or wanting to be an everyday player.

"But I am enjoying myself to the fullest. And I do that with a lot of love for those people who are in that office, that from the first they opened the doors to me."

[RELATED: Five things you should know about Giants' 2020 schedule]

Sandoval adapted to his new role and has started to thrive once again with the Giants. This season he is slashing .269/.314/.509 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI, while playing an important role in helping the Giants make a push for the playoffs.

The veteran third baseman is thankful the Giants and Bochy believed in him and gave him one more chance to shine in the Bay.

"Despite all the things that I'd went through, the Giants always trusted me and they gave me the blessing of returning home. I am trying to make the best out of this second chance," Sandoval told ESPN.

"I think [Bochy] has been a very important factor in me being here today. He has always fought for me and put his feet to the fire for me, and I know I owe this second chance to him, and I love giving it all for him in what will be his final year."

MLB schedule 2020: Oakland A's game dates, start times, analysis

MLB schedule 2020: Oakland A's game dates, start times, analysis

There is just under one month left in the 2019 MLB regular season, but 2020 schedule already was released Monday morning. 

Here is the A's full tentative schedule for next season: 

The start to the season won't be easy for the A's next year. Oakland starts 2020 with seven straight home games, but each is against current division leaders -- the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros. The A's then hit the road to face the Twins in Minnesota and the Angles in Los Angeles. 

After a daunting start at home to open the season, the A's then welcome the Yankees and Red Sox to Oakland two weeks later as part of a 10-game homestand. Fans will see some big names right away, but it won't be easy on the field. 

The A's went 14-18 this season between March and April. Rosters will change in the offseason, but right now, it could be a tall task to have a better record than that to start next season.

[RELATED: Bassitt shows White Sox letting him go was 'a mistake']

What you've all been waiting for, though, is the Bay Bridge Series.

The A's won't face the Giants until June 6 when they welcome the Giants to Oakland for two games. The rivalry will continue one month later on July 7 for two more games at Oracle Park. 

Even if the A's have trouble with their tough start to the season, they always can keep their eyes on winning The Bridge.