Sale, Verlander gearing up for postseason rematch

Red Sox

BOSTON (WPRI) — Two of the best teams in baseball continued their preparations Friday for their upcoming American League Championship Series showdown. 

The defending champion Houston Astros are seeking to punch a return ticket to the World Series while the Boston Red Sox will look to ride the momentum of their big ALDS win over the rival New York Yankees and take home the pennant for the first time since 2013.

It’s a rematch of last year’s ALDS, which saw the Astros defeat the Red Sox in four games.

The series might be different but the pitching matchup will be the same for Game 1: Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander.

Sale got lit up for 7 runs, including 3 home runs, over 5 innings of work in last year’s Game 1. As Houston’s bench coach last season, current Red Sox Manager Alex Cora believes Sale had good stuff that day but missed his spots. With Sale’s recent postseason success against the Yankees, Cora said he’s ready to watch Sale get a second chance against the Astros.

“Last year wasn’t a good one for [Sale], but he learned from it,” Cora said.

“It’s a rematch,” Sale added. “The winner goes to the World Series. I’m not going to try to be better than I am.”

Sale’s teammates said they’re confident in him, believing he will be able to pull through against the Astros this time around.

“We know what he’s made of,” outfielder Mookie Betts said.

“I never lost confidence in Chris [Sale],” outfielder J.D. Martinez added. “He’s one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game.”

Sale has 1.29 ERA in his last eight starts at home, including the postseason.

“We know who were going up against.,” he said. “They have guys that put the ball into the seats. But I like the guys in my corner.”

First pitch for Game 1 is scheduled for 8:09 p.m. Saturday at Fenway Park.

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