Chris Sale gladly will admit there were things he could’ve done better Saturday afternoon, but he also isn’t reticent to air out some grievances with home plate umpire Mike Estabrook.
In Saturday afternoon’s loss to the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox southpaw allowed eight runs on nine hits over just 3 2/3 innings — with seven of those runs coming in a trainwreck of a fourth inning.
Things might have been different for Sale if not for a couple borderline, or just outright bad, calls from Estabrook. Chief among them was an 0-2 pitch to Gio Urshela that caught the top of the strike zone but was called a ball. Urshela ultimately worked the count full, and with one on and one out he won the battle, singling to center. The next at-bat, Cameron Maybin popped out with an infield fly, meaning had Sale gotten the call on Urshela the inning would’ve been over and the score would’ve remained 1-1.
But after things unraveled and Sale was tagged for five more runs, all after Maybin recorded the second out, he got Aaron Judge into a 2-2 count. He threw a ball that indisputably was a strike, but Estabrook called it a ball, extending the at-bat. Judge responded by hitting a ground rule double on the next pitch, ending Sale’s afternoon. As the southpaw walked to the dugout, he barked at Estabrook and got tossed.
It’s also worth noting that Estabrook drew the ire of both J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts for certain calls — with the latter almost never expressing distaste for an umpire.
After the game, Sale assessed the umpiring, and he was pretty candid.
“It changes the landscape of the game,” Sale said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “When you have outs and less guys on base it obviously changes the way you pitch. You’ve got guys in scoring position, you’ve got to change it up a little bit. But there’s nothing that we can do, I’m sure there’s nothing Major League Baseball is going to do because it never really happens. Just got to grind through it and find a way.”
Sale was asked if it was just the Urshela call that bothered him, and clearly it was not.
“There’s the 2-2 to Judge that I threw, it’s almost right down the middle,” Sale said. “I don’t know what the hell he was looking for. But not only that, you’ve got J.D. in the first inning, it’s just godawful. Bogie, also, 3-1 pitch not even close. Mookie, and Mookie doesn’t say anything to anybody. It just seemed like it was just kind of one-sided. But like I said you’ve got to be accountable, you’ve got to find a way no matter what’s going on. That obviously makes it a little bit tougher, but we’ve got to find a way to fight through that and get it done in another fashion, I guess.”
Sale then was asked how frustrating it was that he and manager Alex Cora, who also was ejected, had to pay the price for Estabrook’s mistakes.
“Got to find a way to grind through that. Nothing’s going to happen to him, I’m sure. Be out there today at third base and probably behind the plate again. I’m sure I’ll get fined, I’m sure AC will get fined. All for things I think we can be justified by,” Sale said. “I don’t want to get too caught up in the politics of this, but there’s got to be something (to hold umpires accountable). If AC doesn’t do his job for long enough he’s gone. If I don’t do my job for long enough I’m gone. That goes for every other manager in the league and goes for every other player in this clubhouse and in the league. So got to find something, because there’s just nothing really holding it down.”
The Red Sox and Yankees will play Game 2 of the day-night doubleheader at 7:05 p.m. ET.