Chris Sale saw himself in an unusual role Sunday night in Game 5 of the World Series.
The Boston Red Sox starting pitcher was used out of the bullpen in the ninth inning to close out the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, clinching the World Series championship to give Boston its fourth title in 15 seasons.
Sale started Game 1 of the series and was expected to toss Game 5. But manager Alex Cora dropped a bombshell during his Game 4 postgame press conference when he announced David Price would be the starter. Sox fans still were able to see Sale in Game 5, however, just not in the role they’re used to seeing him in.
With a 5-1 lead in the ninth, the hard-throwing lefty struck out the side, including a game-ending strikeout of Manny Machado to seal Boston’s title. But had the game been closer, the team would not have used their ace.
“There was a lot of talk in the dugout about (Nathan) Eovaldi or (Craig) Kimbrel or Chris Sale,” Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie said, via WEEI.com’s John Tomase. “As soon as we scored the fourth run to go up, I felt like, ‘I want Chris Sale in the game.’ So I talked to Alex (Cora) about it, and he was all in.
“There was a run-differential we wanted to respect,” LeVangie said. “We weren’t going to send him out there with a two-run lead. We wanted to make sure there was some leverage for us.”
Not only was Cora “all in,” Sale too was ready to take the mound whenever the team wanted to call upon him.
“You never don’t want the ball,” Sale said. “But (David Price) held the hot hand and he’s carried us through this postseason as one of our starters, plus I got a chance to go old school. My first couple years I was in the bullpen and I got to throw the last pitch of a World Series, so I can’t complain.”
We don’t think anyone’s complaining after Sunday night’s outcome.