Farrell not completely ruling out Sale for Game 4

Troy Taormina / Reuters

Chris Sale didn't look like a Cy Young candidate for the Boston Red Sox on Thursday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, but that apparently won't sway manager John Farrell from bringing back his ace on short rest.

Farrell told reporters, including Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe, that he hasn't completely ruled out the 28-year-old for Game 4 in Boston on Monday. 2016 AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello is currently lined up for the start.

Based on Sale's recent performance, Farrell said he's more inclined to use him in Game 5 instead of Game 4, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne, but if the series is on the line, the skipper might have no choice.

"Hundred pitches thrown yesterday," Farrell said. "I would think he's probably Game 5 availability first, so that would be my thought initially. I'm not squelching it. But what we're seeing throughout the month, we've got to factor all that in."

The Houston Astros picked apart Sale in the series opener on Thursday, scoring seven earned runs against him in five innings of work, which included three home runs - two coming off the bat of Jose Altuve.

Sale only allowed seven earned runs once during the regular season, against the Cleveland Indians at the beginning of August.

Overall, the southpaw was 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and an MLB-best 308 strikeouts during the regular season.