LEADING OFF: Sale on hold, Astros under scrutiny, NLCS shift
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
SALE ON HOLD
Red Sox ace Chris Sale was still feeling weak and trying to regain lost weight after a stomach illness forced him to spend a night in the hospital after he started the AL Championship Series opener against the Astros. Boston had hoped to start Sale in Game 5 on Thursday night, but instead will give him a couple extra days to recover while planning to pitch him in Game 6 on Saturday in Boston, if necessary. David Price will start in Sale’s place Thursday night on three days’ rest as the Red Sox try to win the pennant.
Sale threw in the outfield for 10-15 minutes Wednesday before Game 4 in Houston, but manager Alex Cora said the lanky left-hander didn’t throw a bullpen as planned.
Boston leads the best-of-seven set 3-1 and is one win from making its first trip to the World Series since winning the 2013 title. Game 1 winner Justin Verlander is scheduled to pitch for the Astros with their season on the line.
The Astros are still under scrutiny, even after Major League Baseball absolved the World Series champions of any wrongdoing after a credentialed Houston employee was caught pointing his cellphone into the opposing dugouts during playoff games in Cleveland and Boston. MLB says the Astros were conducting surveillance, not spying, but the incidents have raised questions about sign-stealing and ethics in the age of high-speed, high-definition cameras.
Boston executive Dave Dombrowski also did not think the employee was stealing signs, but he was upset by Houston’s suspicion of the Red Sox and the fact that the Astros weren’t punished because “there was a violation.”
“I don’t like the implication that the Boston Red Sox were doing anything illegal,” Dombrowski said, “and I don’t think that the issue is actually closed from Major League Baseball, from what I’ve been advised from the commissioner’s office, so there’s a lot more steps that are attached to this.”
The Dodgers and Brewers return to Milwaukee for an off day in the NL Championship Series. Game 6 is Friday night at Miller Park, and the Brewers plan to start Wade Miley again as they attempt to avoid elimination. Miley walked Cody Bellinger to open Game 5 on Wednesday before getting pulled in an unusual bit of strategy by manager Craig Counsell.
The left-hander would become the first pitcher to start consecutive games for his team in one postseason since George Earnshaw of the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1930 World Series against the Cardinals, according to STATS. Miley pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings in Game 2 vs. the Dodgers, allowing two hits.
Milwaukee starters have tossed just 14 innings in the NLCS, the lowest total ever through five games, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
“We’re in a good spot, man,” Counsell said. “We’re going back home, to me, in a position of strength.”
Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches for the Dodgers, one win from making consecutive World Series appearances for the first time since 1977-78.