Boston Red Sox left-handed pitcher Chris Sale has been admitted to the hospital with a stomach illness that threatens his availability for the ALCS.
The last thing the Boston Red Sox need as they attempt to fight their way back in the American League Championship Series is to have the status of their ace put in doubt, yet here we are.
The team announced during Game 2 against the Houston Astros that Chris Sale is not with the team at Fenway Park. He has been admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital after experiencing a stomach illness and will be held overnight for observation.
Sale pitched four innings in Game 1, allowing a pair of runs on one hit and four walks. He struggled with his control and a dip in velocity through the first two innings but recovered to finish strong in the next two frames. The rough start racked up his pitch count, so the early exit was presumably due to hitting 86 pitches with the top of the Astros order looming. There was no indication that the lefty was under the weather at the time.
Whatever illness Sale has suddenly been struck with must have come during the day on Sunday. No, it wasn’t watching another David Price postseason start that made him feel sick, although most of us will admit to having our stomach in knots while Price was in the game.
Monday is an off day as the teams travel to Houston for Game 3. It’s unclear if Sale will be released from the hospital in time to join his teammates for the trip or if he’ll catch up with them later. It’s unlikely he would be asked to pitch in the next game regardless of his health, so there’s no urgency for Sale to rush to Houston.
It’s possible that Sale could start Game 4 on short rest if the Red Sox trail in the series. He certainly wasn’t overworked in his last start and another abbreviated outing in the fourth game of the series potentially sets him up to work in a Game 7 if the ALCS lasts that long. News of this illness makes it a long shot that he’ll be ready by Wednesday, crossing that scenario off the list.
At this point, the Red Sox would settle for getting their ace healthy in time for Game 5. They can’t win this series without him. Hopefully a day or two of treatment and rest is all Sale needs to get back on the mound.