Alex Cora ejected during Game 1 of ALCS

Red Sox catcher plunks umpire Joe West with errant throw to second

Astros top Red Sox 7-2 in Game 1 of ALCS

"This is the time when we kick in gear and start fighting". Chris Sale basically said he had nothing. In fact he didn't have his B-game either.

It is a gamble on Cora's part, a determination to stick with the lefty to whom the Red Sox gave a seven-year, $217 million contract.

The Red Sox needed a normal outing from Sale. The Sox managed three hits all night as their attack was shut down by Houston starter Justin Verlander (six innings, two runs, two hits) and three impressive relievers. That and holding the Red Sox to just three hits on the night.

Then we have Boston's defense.

Alex Bregman, who hit into a fielder's choice and also drew a walk, gave Sale some credit. Sale battled George Springer for eight pitches before leaving a 93-mph fastball in the heart of the plate, which Springer banged under Eduardo Nuñez's glove at third for a two-run single. It's not easy, but you have to throw strikes. After Betts hit into a force play at the plate, the Red Sox tied the game on a wild pitch on a check-swing by Andrew Benintendi, but Verlander ended the at-bat with a called strike three on the left fielder. They have pitching, hitting and defense in spades.

The Red Sox did a lousy job adjusting to the circumstances.

With Sale struggling in Game 1 and the Sox trailing in the series, Boston's ALCS hopes rest on a man who is arguably the worst postseason pitcher alive.

The Astros led all of major league baseball in earned run average and allowed the fewest runs (534) of anyone.

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Offense was not the Red Sox' only issue.

Price, though, said that as soon as the final out was recorded in Game 4 of Boston's series win over New York, Cora pulled him aside, told him he was not making any changes and that Price would be his Game 2 pitcher all the way. I'm not defending Cora, either. "It's the best bullpen I've ever been around". The Astros' arms get the better of the Boston bats in Game 2. Jose Altuve is the reigning MVP in the American League.

Price, of course, is famous for his postseason struggles, but as noted in our ALCS preview, his playoff resume has some good in it as well.

Then there's the team's sparkplug, Alex Bregman. He reminds me of Dustin Pedroia in his prime. I'd say the same if it was A.J. Hinch. With Jackie Bradley Jr. dancing on third base, Verlander put a 1-2 curveball in the dirt and past catcher Martin Maldonado, allowing the runners to advance and tying the game 2-2. These guys know what it takes to win.

The Astros are the World Series champs - and the betting favourites in this one - for a reason.

The ball skipped just under Eduardo Núñez's glove at third base and almost made it to the warning track in left field before Andrew Benintendi scooped it. "But once that happens, then you've got to reset and not relinquish the lead". If Sale gets another start, he'll need to be noticeably better than he was on Saturday. The Astros are an incredibly confident bunch and it got a nice start from their ace.

How about David Price.

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