Ace lefty Chris Sale was arguably the best pitcher in baseball throughout the regular season when he went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a ludicrous 12.93 K/9. However, he did not have his best stuff against the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
Sale was yanked in the sixth inning after allowing the first two baserunners to reach. When both Evan Gattis and Josh Reddick scored later, the runs were charged to Sale, ending his line at seven earned runs on nine hits over five innings.
Beyond that, it continued a trend the Red Sox would rather avoid. A year ago, the Red Sox were swept at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, also in the ALDS. Here's how their starters did:
To his credit, Sale lasted longer than any of those fellas last year, but he still got torched. It's only the second time he's allowed seven earned runs since signing with the Red Sox.
Obviously, this doesn't mean Boston pitching is doomed, and it isn't a portent of what's to come. It's a piece of happenstance that has mostly crushed the hopes of Red Sox fans in consecutive postseasons.
It also puts the club in quite a hole, as the rest of the rotation is hardly imposing in a five-game series. The Red Sox needed a win with Sale on the mound, because of the uncertainty that follows.
Friday's starter Drew Pomeranz has only thrown 3 2/3 postseason innings (all with the Red Sox in 2016) and he allowed two runs on four hits, two home walks, and a home run. If Pomeranz struggles, the Red Sox will be pinning their playoff hopes on Doug Fister in Game 3.