By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Meeting with reporters at the team's spring training facility on Sunday, Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale recalled sitting at his locker after the first playoff start of his career (a complete disaster) and wondering what just happened.
Shelled for seven earned runs on nine hits (three of which left the yard at Houston's Minute Maid Park) over just five innings of work in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS, the 6-foot-6 Sale walked off the rubber a beaten man. It was an odd feeling for Sale, who finished second in the American League Cy Young voting that season, and he admits that it came with some suspicions.
Suspicions confirmed by the MLB's findings on the scandal that's made the Astros organization Public Enemy No. 1 in the baseball world, and with every single player impacted by their cheating by all means calling for their heads this spring.
"I was standing out on the mound, I was like, ‘How the hell are they doing [this]?'" Sale began. "They’re hitting breaking balls over the fence. Hitting fastballs at their neck. And yeah, it crosses your mind, but what kind of idiot do you look like if they actually weren’t? I’m not going to sit here and say they were [cheating] because I don’t have 100 percent evidence. I mean, I guess there is in the investigation. But in that specific scenario, I don’t know."
But with the inability to change the past, Sale knows there's no point in dwelling on what happened back then.
“It sucks but what am I gonna do?" Sale offered. "What am I gonna go hold them at gunpoint? Sit here and curse them out in front of a bunch of cameras? If I had something to say to them, I know those guys. I can get one of their numbers and text them and talk to them face to face or whatever.
"It happened. What are you going to do about it?"
Sale has bigger fish to fry than the 2017 postseason, too, as the 30-year-old is coming off an injury-shortened 2019 season that came with six wins and a career-worst 4.40 ERA in 25 starts.
This is also the first year of Sale's five-year, $145 million extension signed with the Red Sox just prior to the start of that 2019 campaign.