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‘Nothing is going to stop us’: Chris Sale fires up Red Sox in the face of COVID outbreak

Chris Sale lit a fire under his teammates in Game 4 of the World Series in 2018.
Chris Sale lit a fire under his teammates in Game 4 of the World Series in 2018.Jim Davis

Chris Sale helped lead the Red Sox to victory from the Tropicana Field mound on Wednesday. He may have done the same from the visiting clubhouse of the Trop on Thursday.

After the Red Sox closed out their four-game series against the Rays with a 4-0 win, manager Alex Cora revealed that the veteran lefthander spent the afternoon pumping up his teammates in the face of a COVID-19 outbreak that had resulted in 11 members of the team and eight players being sidelined either with positive tests for COVID-19 or as close contacts who required quarantine.

“There was a good vibe. Chris was talking to the guys today and he’s been saying all along, ‘Nothing is going to stop us.’ He’s been very loud in the clubhouse just letting them know, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, we’re going to keep pushing, we’re going to be OK,” said Cora. “When you have guys like that that can speak up in the clubhouse and then they go out there and they perform, it’s a lot easier.

“There was a lot of energy today. The guys were into it from the get-go and to be able to do that is a testament to them, as a group. They understand that teams go through stuff like that. It’s not the first team that has a COVID issue, but there have been teams that went through this and then they took off, right? Hopefully this is our ‘taking off’ and we can play solid baseball all the way through September and get to October to play in October.”

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The idea of Sale rallying his teammates is not novel. In Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, with the Red Sox trailing the Dodgers, 4-0, Sale unloaded on his teammates in the dugout, an eruption that many with the team viewed as a turning point in an eventual 9-6 win that gave the Sox a commanding three games-to-one lead in their title push.

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More recently, he was one of three veterans – along with Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez – to speak in a players-only meeting after arguably the team’s worst game of the year. The Sox are 7-4 since that meeting, despite enduring a COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in nearly one-third of the roster being rendered unavailable on the recent road trip.

Cora believed that Sale’s actions in the clubhouse helped translate to the field on Thursday night – with hopes that the impact will remain sustained.

“There was a lot of energy today. The guys were into it from the get-go and to be able to do that is a testament to them, as a group. They understand that teams go through stuff like that. It’s not the first team that has a COVID issue, but there have been teams that went through this and then they took off, right?” said Cora. “Hopefully this is our ‘taking off’ and we can play solid baseball all the way through September and get to October to play in October.”


Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.