SEATTLE -- Chris Sale and his White Sox know that the road to success in Major League Baseball has its share of potholes, but once you steer around them, the pavement can be pretty smooth, maybe even all the way home.The point couldn't have been better illustrated by the strange
SEATTLE -- Chris Sale and his White Sox know that the road to success in Major League Baseball has its share of potholes, but once you steer around them, the pavement can be pretty smooth, maybe even all the way home.
The point couldn't have been better illustrated by the strange events surrounding Chicago's stunning 4-3 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field, in which Sale was brilliant, building a 3-0 lead after eight one-hit innings, and White Sox closer David Robertson was not, allowing Seattle to score four runs with two outs in the ninth to give it all back.
"He did what an ace does," Robertson said in a silent Chicago clubhouse mere minutes after Mariners pinch-hitter Adam Lind's walkoff three-run home run cleared the wall in right center field. "He went eight innings, didn't give up any runs, and I went in there and just blew it. I pitched poorly. I gave up hits, I walked guys and I didn't get the job done. It's pathetic on my part."
But it's over, and the White Sox were left to try as hard as they could to consider the positives that took place in what turned out to be a very successful first eight innings of Monday night's game.
Take the fact that Monday night brought the lanky White Sox left-hander and recent American League All-Star starter to Safeco Field for his much-anticipated first outing since giving up a Kris Bryant home run in the first inning of the Midsummer Classic last Tuesday in San Diego. Sale once again looked every bit of the part of one of the Junior Circuit's elite aces.
Sale gave up only a first-inning single and struck out six. He walked three batters, however, and hit two more in the eighth inning, which sealed his departure after 100 pitches.
"He was great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I think the rest and everything, coming back from the All-Star Game, [and still] he was good. He was as good as we've seen. I think in the last couple of innings, hitting a couple of guys, walking the leadoff guy … he ended up getting out of it, but I thought he had done his job at that point."
Sale didn't necessarily agree.
"Do I like it? No," Sale said. "Do I understand it? Yeah. I get it. I understand where they're coming from. It's a long season. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon. So maybe I go out there and my pitch count gets over 120 and then … you never know, so it is what it is and you move on.
"We've got another game tomorrow, so that's why we love this game. Another one tomorrow, so be ready."
Sale entered the game against the Mariners with the much-heralded 14 wins, but he also entered with questions, albeit quietly asked, about his current form. After all, Sale began the season 9-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his first nine starts but came into this start having gone 5-3 with a 5.56 ERA in his last nine outings.
But he said he figured out some mechanical issues during a side session in Anaheim and corrected them for the most part on Monday. That was only a slight silver lining after the club's fifth consecutive defeat, including a three-game sweep by the Angels in which the team was outscored 16-1.
Still, Sale didn't hesitate to say good things about the offense, which scored three runs in the first four innings and banged out 11 hits, and about the attitude in the clubhouse moving forward.
"Getting guys on base, it was nice, especially after our last series," Sale said. "We had a bad series in Anaheim, so to come out after that and come up here and be able to do that, it just shows that we're competitive.
"It shows that our guys are out there doing everything they can for us to win a ballgame. So hopefully we can take that and run with it and win us a ballgame tomorrow."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.