Chris Sale wasnt blaming his performance on home plate umpire Mike Estabrooks floating strike zone. The Red Sox southpaw wasnt faulting him for the nine hits or eight runs he allowed on Saturday.
But Sale was pointing to an issue he feels baseball needs to address. The Red Sox felt Estabrook missed calls all afternoon, and when Sale and manager Alex Cora argued, they were both ejected. The pitcher and manager had to face the media after the Yankees 9-2 whipping of the Red Sox in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. Estabrook did not.
Nothing is going to happen to him, Im sure. Hell be out there [in Game 2] at third base, probably be at home plate again. Im sure Ill get fined. Im sure AC will get fined, all for things I think we were justified about, Sale said after the free-falling Red Sox lost their sixth straight game and fell 12 / games behind the Yankees in the AL East and 4 / behind the Rays for the second AL wild card. I dont want to get too caught up in the politics of this, but theres got to be something. AC doesnt do his job for long enough, hes gone. If I dont do my job for long enough, Im gone. Goes for every other manager in the league, it goes for every other player in this clubhouse and in the league. Got to find something. Nothing really holding it down.
Sale, a seven-time All-Star, saw his ERA rise to an unsightly 4.61 after failing to get out of the fourth inning. Seven of those runs came across in the fourth with two outs when the game got away and Sale and Cora were both ejected for arguing balls and strikes with Estabrook. Earlier in the game, Estabrook had called J.D. Martinez out on a pitch that looked to be well out of the strike zone and there were a few other pitches that seemed to be balls called strikes as well against the Red Sox, adding to their frustration.
It came to a head in the fourth. With one on and one out, Sale seemingly had Gio Urshela struck out on an 0-2 fastball. Estabrook called it a ball and Urshela followed with a single. Later in the frame, Sale felt he had Aaron Judge struck out, but Estabrook again called it a ball. In between, Brett Gardner drove in two runs with a single and DJ LeMahieu slapped a three-run homer over the short porch in right field.
Give these guys extra outs its going to hurt. I felt like he changed the landscape of the game, Sale said. But theres got to be something that can be done about this. Were held accountable as players, as coaches. & Theres nothing we can do. Im sure theres nothing major league baseball is going to do.
Saturday began with somewhat of an AL East concession speech from Cora. His team followed with a performance that illustrated the Red Soxs dire situation. And before Game 2 of Saturdays doubleheader, the Sox held a players-only meeting. Its fair to say Boston is in the midst of a critical point in its season.
Its not good right now, Cora said. Were not playing good baseball.