Game 4 of the American League Championship Series just got a lot more important for the Boston Red Sox.
Manager Alex Cora confirmed a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney on Wednesday that Red Sox ace Chris Sale will not start Game 5 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros as he recovers from an illness.
Cora said Sale should be ready to pitch Game 6 at Fenway Park on Saturday if necessary, however.
“He still feels weak. He lost some weight,” Cora said Wednesday in a press conference prior to Game 4 in Houston. “… He didn’t throw a bullpen (Wednesday); he’s feeling better compared to (Tuesday), but physically, he’s not there yet. If necessary, he’ll pitch Game 6. He feels that he’ll be ready for that one, and we’ll go from there.”
Sale was hospitalized with a stomach ailment Sunday and released from Massachusetts General Hospital on Monday, but the issue still pushed his preparation back a couple days.
Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball Wednesday in Game 4, but it’s unclear who will get the ball in Game 5 with Sale not available. Boston could elect to start David Price on three days rest or turn to Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Red Sox lead the series 2-1, but if they lose Game 4, they will be tasked with facing Justin Verlander in a pivotal Game 5 without their ace to counter. Expect Cora to pull out all the stops Wednesday night.