Chris Sale

Charles Krupa/USA Today Sports

Chris Sale's dugout speech awakens sputtering offense en route to huge Game 4 win

John Tomase
October 28, 2018 - 4:26 am

LOS ANGELES – Red Sox fans need no reminder of the impact a well-timed dugout speech in Game 4 of the World Series can make. Five years ago in St. Louis, David Ortiz rallied his teammates to victory and an eventual title with an impassioned sermon.

On Saturday night, it was Chris Sale’s turn.

With the Red Sox trailing the Dodgers 4-0 in the seventh inning and showing no life, Sale let them have it. He punched the air with both hands. He screamed. Teammates bowed their heads as they passed. It didn’t take a master lip reader to see that Sale was chewing out the team’s meager offense.

It worked. Mitch Moreland blasted a three-run homer in the seventh, Steve Pearce followed with the tying shot one inning later, and the Red Sox put away their 9-6 victory with a five-run ninth.

“It scared me a little bit because I had never seen him yell like that and the words that he was saying, I had never heard that come from him before,” third baseman Rafael Devers said. “But, you know, we came out sluggish and that moment helped us get motivated for the rest of the game.”

A pitcher calling out hitters isn’t very common, but Sale can pull it off.

“You don’t see it too often, but if you guys heard it, you would’ve loved it,” pitching coach Dana LeVangie said. “He’s a genuine guy, a guy who cares about winning, cares about his team. Regardless of if he’s pitching the game or not, he’s all in to be a part of a winning team.”

Most of Sale’s teammates were taken aback.

“I’ve seen him a little upset after a bad inning, come into the cage and be a little upset at himself,” said assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett. “I’ve never seen him in the dugout like that.

“A player doing something like that? No. You don’t see that in professional baseball that often. You’ve got, ‘Let’s go. Here we go,’ that type of stuff. But a guy really just controlling the dugout like that, you don’t see that very often.”

Sale isn’t just any guy. He’s the alpha male of the pitching staff and a no-BS straight shooter, which helps explain why his teammates steered a wide berth around him.

“You ever been around somebody that has been really angry that maybe you shouldn’t say anything or look at him?” LeVangie asked. “That’s probably Chris, at that time.”

Sale’s outburst caught a number of players by surprise.

“I was down in the tunnel and I heard someone yelling,” Brock Holt said. “And Mookie (Betts) came down, he was going down to watch some video. And I said, ‘Who's yelling up there?’ He said ‘Sale.’ Oh my God, he was mad at us. I think that kind of lit a fire under everybody. We didn't want to see him mad anymore. So we decided to start swinging the bats a little bit.”

Starter Eduardo Rodriguez agreed.

“I was inside when he was coming out there,” Rodriguez said. “And I wasn’t listening to what he was saying, but I heard him screaming to them and I know he was screaming something about get back, get in the game. Go out and do your job and let’s score runs and that worked pretty good.”

Cora had a slightly different take.

“Chris? In the dugout screaming?” the manager asked innocently. “My English is very limited, so I didn't understand what he was saying.”

He was kidding. He called Sale’s lecture “a big moment.”

“We felt that we had no energy, actually none whatsoever,” Cora said. “It had to do with Rich Hill, the way he was throwing the ball. Obviously the big swing by Yasiel (Puig). But one thing about our team, we keep playing. It's been like that the whole time.”

And so when they rallied and won, it was only natural to credit Sale, just as we had Ortiz half a decade ago.

 “I remember seeing that,” Barkett said. “David’s a type of voice, just like Chris, veteran leader, that can call us all out, so to speak. He’s got the dirt under his cleats to do such a thing. When he did it tonight, it was really cool. Big moment.”