Coming off an 11-strikeout gem against the Twins in his last start, veteran Red Sox lefty Chris Sale struggled badly against Baltimore, as he allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings of work, and for just the second time in his career, he failed to strike out a batter in a start.
"Sliders down and in and they hit it. Fastballs up and away, they hit it. Changeups -- at one point there, there were no swing-and-misses. Tough pitches," Cora said of Sale after the 5-4 loss. "You've got to give credit to them, I guess."
"We've got to take a look at it and see if we find something," Cora continued, "I'm not saying — got to give credit to them, but command was off today."
When informed of Cora's remarks, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde took exception. "I'm not sure what he was getting at," Hyde said. "Honestly, pretty disappointed in hearing that. I thought it was disrespectful to our hitters, to be honest with you. I thought we had a great game plan. I thought we had major league hitters take really good at-bats."
Prior to the second game of the series on Tuesday, Cora clarified his remarks (via the Associated Press):
"It wasn't about pointing the finger at them. If he took it that way, I'll talk to him right now, but that's not the case. I was the guy suspended for what happened in 2017, so I'm the last guy that can accuse somebody of doing something wrong if that's what he thought I was saying."
Cora's initial remarks can be parsed as his being concerned about Sale possibly tipping pitches as opposed to a suspicion that the Orioles were stealing signs, but given Cora's history -- he was suspended for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal and -- an alternative interpretation is understandable. Presumably, Cora's follow-up remarks will put an end to the controversy.