Chris Sale gets the start for Boston in Game 5, but is that a good thing. Of the 353 pitchers who have ever thrown at least 25 innings in the postseason, Sale’s 6.91 ERA is fifth-worst all-time. Only Jaret Wright, Ed Figueroa, Jake Peavy and Doyle Alexander rank below him. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Earth to Chris Sale, is anyone home?

The Red Sox need some help. If there’s a former Cy Young contender and future Hall of Famer in there somewhere, it’s time for him to show up.

“We all know what we got ahead of us,” Sale said early Wednesday morning after the Sox unraveled in the ninth inning and took a 9-2 loss to the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. “Big game.”

If Manager Alex Cora called his team’s decisive 12-3 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 3 on Monday night “as close to perfect” as it gets, Tuesday felt like the complete opposite as the Sox and Nathan Eovaldi burned in the ninth inning and watched it all fall apart.

A tight game turned into something close to a worst-case scenario when Eovaldi entered for a high-leverage relief appearance and it didn’t work. Hunter Renfroe took a bad route to a fly ball that turned into a double, and when Eovaldi struck out the next two guys he faced to bring up Jason Castro, a controversial call by home plate umpire Laz Diaz extended the at-bat. Castro won the battle and then the Sox completely fell apart, allowing seven runs in the inning to even the series.

Sale will start Game 5 on Wednesday (5:08 p.m. on FoxSports1). And after offering the Sox next to nothing over his last four appearances, all of which had monumental stakes, it’s fair to say the Astros have all of the momentum now.

There’s never been this much pressure on Sale, who is inching closer to David Price levels of postseason ineptitude, though in far fewer appearances.

Cora took a big risk in naming Sale the Game 1 starter in this series. He wanted Eovaldi to get more rest and the bullpen to be available behind Sale, but he also presented the Astros with a chance to feast on the hampered left-hander, who has looked like a shell of his old self in the last month.

He’s combined to pitch just 3-2/3 innings in his two postseason starts, and that’s after going just 7-2/3 combined innings in his final two regular-season starts, each of which were must-wins for the Red Sox as they fought for a wild-card berth.

In those 11-1/3 innings combined, Sale has allowed 11 earned runs while forcing his bullpen to pitch a huge chunk of innings behind him.

“I think a lot of my inconsistencies have come with my delivery,” he said. “Not being able to repeat that.”

He said he’s never spent as much time in the bullpen between starts as he has this week.

“I’ve never been away from the game like I was before,” he said. “This is crunch time. This isn’t, ‘let’s work back from Tommy John and try to find some stuff.’ We need it now. Look where we’re at. I got to put as much work as I can and I got to do my job. I got to do what I got to do for this team.”

If he can’t come through Wednesday, not only will he put his team in a bad spot, but the questions will begin about his postseason history.

This year is obviously different, since he hasn’t looked particularly sharp in his first year back from elbow surgery. But he hasn’t been very good in previous postseason appearances either. A shoulder injury played a role in his ’18 failures. And there was speculation the Astros knew what was coming in his poor start in ’17.

Still, of the 353 pitchers who have ever thrown at least 25 innings in the postseason, Sale’s 6.91 ERA is fifth-worst all-time. Only Jaret Wright, Ed Figueroa, Jake Peavy and Doyle Alexander rank below him.

It brings back memories of Price, though Price had more than double Sale’s postseason experience (66-2/3 innings) when he entered the 2017 playoffs with a career 5.54 ERA and no wins as a starter.

And as we learned with Price, and so many other postseason busts, they’re only busts until they aren’t. Price was brilliant out of relief in the ’17 postseason and arguably the MVP of the ’18 postseason as he shook the monkey off his back in a big way.

Sale can do that Wednesday, and he needs to. He’s the only starter on this staff who hasn’t carried his weight.

Eovaldi has been brilliant through three starts. Eduardo Rodriguez has submitted two of the best starts of his career. Nick Pivetta was superb on Tuesday night and has been excellent in all three postseason outings so far. It’s Sale’s turn.

“I feel a lot more comfortable,” he said. “Things have been trending in the right direction and it’s all about putting it out on the field.”

He was similarly upbeat and positive after his Game 1 start, in which he recorded just eight outs and only allowed one run, but departed with two men on base and put the bullpen in a bad spot.

Cora said he’d consider using Sale out of relief in Game 4 on Tuesday, and he might have if the Red Sox were ahead.

A perfect spot for a left-hander arrived in the ninth inning after Eovaldi allowed the go-ahead run.

Michael Brantley was due up, and he’s been substantially better against right-handers (.924 OPS) than against left-handers (.575 OPS), putting Cora in a spot where he needed the platoon advantage.

But with the Sox down a run, Sale stayed seated while Martin Perez, a fifth starter and not a particularly reliable one, was called upon.

Perez quickly allowed a bases-clearing double to Brantley and an infield single to Carlos Correa, who hit a dribbler back to the pitcher that Perez couldn’t handle cleanly and threw wide of first base.

All of the momentum that the Red Sox had in this series had evaporated. It was back to square, with the series tied and the Sox now turning to Sale to turn it back in their favor.

“I think he’s going to do great,” Eovaldi said. “We can’t ask for anybody else we would rather have on the mound than Chris… He lives up to the pressure. I mean, he enjoys it. He likes it. He likes going out there and being that guy for us, and he is going to be ready to go.”

He has to be now.

The Red Sox are going to have a tough time advancing without him.

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