Red Sox

Chris Sale struggles in four-inning stint vs. Astros in Game 1 of ALCS

Chris Sale struggles in four-inning stint vs. Astros in Game 1 of ALCS

Chris Sale's second-half struggles seemed . . . well, if not over, then at least fading when he averaged 93-94 mph in his ALDS start against the Yankees, with a high of 96. The velocity may not have been in the upper 90s, as it was before he went to the sidelines in August with what was described at the time as "mild inflammation" in his left shoulder, but it was higher than it had been and he seemed on an upward trajectory. And just in time, with the defending World Series champion Astros looming in the ALCS.

In Game 1 on Saturday night, though, all those fears returned. Sale struggled with his command, lasting only four innings, with an average fastball velocity of only 92, and needing 86 laborious pitches to record his 12 outs. The Red Sox trailed 2-0 when he was lifted and, though they tied it in the fifth, they went on to a 7-2 loss.

"It's just one of those things that happen," Sale said. "Sometimes you get out there and you're just battling yourself. That was definitely the case."

It certainly was in the second inning. After recording two quick outs, Sale loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter to the Astros' 7-8-9 hitters. George Springer made him pay by ripping a two-run single under the glove of third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who slipped as he stretched for the ball.

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It was actually the only hit allowed by Sale, but he walked four to go with the hit batter.

"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 just went out there and lost it for a little bit. I felt like I was battling myself for a little bit. I was trying to limit the damage and get out there as quick as we can."

He began to get to get into a rhythm by the fourth inning, but manager Alex Cora decided to push him and brought in Joe Kelly to start the fifth.

In the other clubhouse, the Astros noticed the difference.

"I don't know if he's down on his pitching ability, but for me, from the left side, it's a lot easier when he's only throwing 92-93 instead of 97," said Josh Reddick. "He's not a comfortable at-bat, he's finding ways to get outs, but anytime he's not at 100 percent you've feel like you've got an advantage over him."

Celebrate 15th anniversary of epic Red Sox-Yankees 2004 ALCS Game 7 with this highlight

Celebrate 15th anniversary of epic Red Sox-Yankees 2004 ALCS Game 7 with this highlight

Can you believe it's been 15 years since the Boston Red Sox shocked the world and pulled off the most amazing comeback in Major League Baseball history?

Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of Boston's 10-3 win over the rival New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox lost 19-8 to the Yankees in Game 3 of the series at Fenway Park to fall to the brink of an embarrassing elimination. The Sox then defied the odds by winning the next four games to become the first team in MLB postseason history to win a series after trailing 0-3.

Game 7 had several memorable moments/highlights, most notably David Ortiz's two-run homer in the first inning, Johnny Damon's two home runs (including a grand slam) and Derek Lowe's excellent performance as the starting pitcher.

It all led to a huge celebration after the final out:

The Red Sox went on to win the 2004 World Series with a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, and thus breaking the "Curse of the Bambino".

The Sox have won four World Series titles since the start of the 2004 season, while the Yankees have only one championship over that span. In fact, the Yankees' Game 6 ALCS loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday night marks New York's fourth consecutive ALCS series loss, which ties an MLB record. The 2010s also are the first decade since the 1910s in which the Yankees failed to reach a World Series.

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Ex-Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright to undergo Tommy John surgery

Ex-Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright to undergo Tommy John surgery

Steven Wright's Red Sox career came to an end on Friday, and it'll be a while before the knuckleballer makes his return to the mound.

Shortly after being released by Boston, Wright revealed to WEEI's Rob Bradford he will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday to repair the torn UCL in his right elbow.

"I'm fully committed to rehab and making a comeback," Wright told Bradford. "I feel better than I have ever and want to get back to a position I haven't been in since 2016, which is healthy. My sole focus is to get healthy and stay focused."

Wright made only six appearances for the Red Sox in 2019 as he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in January and served an 80-game suspension. The 35-year-old also served a 15-game suspension in 2018 for violating the league's domestic violence policy.

Wright posted a 24-16 record with a 3.86 ERA in 81 total appearances during his tenure in Boston.

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