Chris Sale pitching for the Boston Red Sox

No Sale may seal Red Sox’ fate

So, the 2022 Red Sox season ends not with a bang but with a broken pinky.

This isn’t meant as a slight to the world’s little fingers. And it certainly isn’t to suggest that Chris Sale should try to pitch with his left pinky in an itty, bitty cast.

It’s just that, for posterity’s sake, pennant hopes that succumb to a bum shoulder, or elbow, or knee, sound formidable. Watching a team fade away with the wave of a little finger does not have a proper sense of drama.

Then again, perhaps the Red Sox’ championship chances can survive a wounded pinky, even if that wounded pinky belongs to their best pitcher, who also might be the unluckiest pitcher on the planet.

The man misses half the season after suffering a stress fracture in his ribcage while throwing batting practice. In his second start he takes a line drive off his pinky.

How many ladders are left for Sale to walk beneath?

The overriding reason to consider the Red Sox a possible playoff team is their residence in the American League East. Since the 2021 American League wild-card playoff featured two teams from the East, and since the also-rans in the other two divisions remain mired in mediocrity, it is reasonable to expect the same in 2022.

At present, with the Yankees on another planet, the Rays and the Blue Jays are the wild-card leaders. The Red Sox are two games behind Toronto. The Orioles, of all clubs, are just 1.5 games behind the Red Sox.

At .500 for the first time since the Obama Administration, the Birds would be just three games back of the first-place Twins in the Central Division.

The bad news, beyond Sale’s continued absence and other assorted bumps and bruises, is that the Red Sox have been dismal playing within their division. They are 3-5 against the O’s, 4-6 against the Yankees, 3-7 against the Blue Jays and 2-8 against the Rays.

Even an English major can add those up and see a wretched 12-26.

There is always the possibility of a post-break renaissance. Teams have been known to come flying out of the gate in July and cruise all the way through September, barely resembling their first-half selves.

The Red Sox would have a much better chance of doing that with Sale healthy and working.

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