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Chris Sale ready to do whatever it takes vs. Astros in ALCS

John Tomase
October 12, 2018 - 3:56 pm

J.D. Martinez hated facing Chris Sale in Detroit. The White Sox and Tigers would inevitably play a 4 p.m. game in the twilight shadows, and the Tigers would inevitably draw Sale.

"And I was, like, 'Dude, this is like a horror film, this is terrible,'" Martinez said on Friday.

Then the Red Sox acquired Sale in a blockbuster at the 2016 winter meetings and Martinez didn't have to worry about Sale so much anymore. Now they're teammates, and Martinez can only hope the Sale who opens the American League Championship Series on Saturday against the Astros is the same one he couldn't stand facing back in the day.

The good news is that after missing most of the last two months of the season, Sale on Friday declared himself fully healthy and ready to take the ball for Game 1. He went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 27 starts, striking out 237.

"I think we're at the point now where there's no holding back," he said. "There's no limitations. It's all hands on deck. We're here to win. We've got to do whatever it takes to get there. I think you can ask anybody in that clubhouse or on that coaching staff, they'll do about anything it takes to get there. Whether it's this or that, doesn't matter, I think everybody's prepared to do whatever it takes to get to that level."

That said, when Sale only made one start between late July and mid-September before tossing 5 1/3 effective innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, fans could be forgiven for wondering if he's totally healed.

"I've had faith and trust in the coaching staff, my teammates, my doctors here," Sale said. "We're at a point now where we can kind of let it go and just get back to pitching. And I think that process, leading up to that was a big part of that."

Sale pitched an inning of relief in Tuesday's clinching Game 4 vs. the Yankees. It's going to take a similar effort to beat the Astros, who are defending World Series champs.

"We know who we're up against," Sale said. "They've got some good arms. They have a good lineup. They wouldn't be here if they didn't. They've got guys who can put the ball in the seats at any time and you just try to break that down, try not to give up that big inning or that big hit.

"On the flip side, I like the guys that I have in my corner, too. So I think on both sides of the ball we're looking at challenges, but we also have a challenge for them, too."