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."

Does Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame election boost David Ortiz's HOF chances?

Does Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame election boost David Ortiz's HOF chances?

A Hall of Fame class that features the first player who was primarily a designated hitter to be elected could bode well for David Ortiz's Hall chances when he's eligible in 2022.

Edgar Martinez is the first true DH to be elected to the Hall. His election was announced Tuesday as part of a class of 2019 that features the first-ever unanimously elected player in Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Joining them in Cooperstown this summer will be two starting pitchers, Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay. Each received more than the 75 percent of votes necessary for enshrinement. 

They'll join closer Lee Smith and outfielder/DH Harold Baines, whose election by the Today's Game Committee was announced in December.

Martinez was elected in his final year on the writers' ballot. He set the standard as a DH to the point where the annual award recognizing the best at the position is now named for him. 

"Martinez's 2019 election will help to justify that of Ortiz, though not necessarily on the first ballot," wrote Sports Illustrated's Jay Jaffe. 

Ortiz's resume includes 541 career home runs - the most for a DH - and his postseason exploits as the linchpin to three Red Sox World Series titles. He has a PED connection - he reportedly failed the supposedly anonymous 2003 survey test. Still, in 2016, commissioner Rob Manfred basically disavowed the veracity of the survey testing.

As for another PED connected ex-Red Sox great, Roger Clemens was named on 59.5 percent of the ballots from Baseball Writers of America voters, 68 votes shy of the 75 percent needed for election. Clemens percentage has continued to rise each year, going from 35.4 percent in 2014 to 57.3 last year. 

Ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling also fell shy of election, receiving 60.9 percent of the vote in his sixth year on the ballot. 

An outspoken conservative and supporter of President Donald Trump, Schilling received the president's backing in a tweet on Sunday. 

Schilling congratulated those elected Tuesday in a tweet. 

Outfielder/DH Manny Ramirez, who failed multiple PED tests after leaving the Red Sox, received 22 percent of the vote in his third year on the ballot. Ex-Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, infielder Kevin Youkilis, and outfielder Jayson Bay, traded for Manny Ramirez in 2008, were not on any ballots in their first year of eligibility. 
 

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Rhode Island congressman rips apart Donald Trump's Curt Schilling HOF endorsement

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Rhode Island congressman rips apart Donald Trump's Curt Schilling HOF endorsement

The 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced Tuesday, and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is not expected to receive enough votes to be included.

Schilling was a fantastic pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and Red Sox, and won three World Series in his career (one with Arizona, two with Boston). His postseason resumé is pretty impressive, too. Schilling has been a controversial figure in retirement and has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump.

Trump, in a tweet Sunday night during the AFC Championship Game, endorsed Schilling for the Hall of Fame. Rhode Island congressman David Cicilline strongly opposed the president's endorsement of Schilling, and he explained why in the tweet below.

Schilling is not liked by many people in Rhode Island, and this Boston Globe story gives a good history into why.

The former MLB pitcher believes his conservative political views have played a part in keeping him out of the Hall of Fame to this point. Other people would argue his regular-season stats simply aren't good enough. 

The 2019 class will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday. New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who's on the ballot for the first time, is expected to headline the group.

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