Sale an elite performer at 10-K benchmark
Left-hander whiffs season-high 13, has reached double-digits in 4 of 5 starts
ARLINGTON -- Chris Sale did not have a flawless performance Tuesday during the White Sox 9-2 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Park, contrary to what his seven scoreless innings and 13 strikeouts would indicate.
In the third inning, during a matchup with Shin-Soo Choo, Sale's cleats caught in mid-delivery. What resulted was somewhere between an unintentional cartwheel and downright flop off the mound as he threw the baseball, enhanced by Sale's 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame.
"I'm pretty good at looking pretty un-athletic sometimes," said a smiling Sale, who threw 80 of his 112 pitches for strikes.
Rangers hitters understand how Sale feels, as there were plenty of times when the White Sox ace made them look a little foolish, for lack of a better word. Take Sale's three encounters with Joey Gallo as a perfect example.
Gallo became the first Rangers player to homer in each of his first two Major League games when he went deep off of Zach Duke in the ninth. Prior to that at-bat, he struck out three times against Sale. There were 12 pitches thrown from Sale to Gallo, featuring 10 sliders and two changeups.
Sale actually threw 20 of his 32 sliders for strikes, according to brooksbaseball.netl, officially bringing that pitch back to an already devastating arsenal.
"Yeah, for sure," said Sale in regard to the re-incorporation of his slider. "I worked on it in bullpens, flat ground and stuff like that. It wasn't just really that good of a pitch early on, so just try to mix it in as much as I can and still not trying to overthrow it."
"Even with as many lefties as they have, they still battle and get on base," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sale and his slider usage against Texas. "It's not an easy lineup to go through, and I thought when he had to, he used what he needed to get out of it."
Factoring in Wednesday's effort, Sale has given up six earned runs over his last 38 2/3 innings. He has yielded 19 hits, walked six and struck out 53 in that stretch.
His franchise-record single-game showing with double-digit strikeouts reached 22, and he has posted 10 or more strikeouts in four of his last five starts and three straight, marking the first time he has gone three straight. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Sale became the fourth pitcher in White Sox history with 10 or more strikeouts in three straight starts, joining Ed Walsh (Aug. 4-11, 1910), Floyd Bannister (May 7-16, 1985) and Edwin Jackson (Aug. 14-31, 2010).
And for good measure, Sale even caught a Jake Smolinski popup back to the mound with sort of a fair catch maneuver to end the seventh. Sale tucked that ball into his back pocket for a little souvenir from the night.
"Gotta do my part when I can," said Sale of the catch. "I don't look too athletic out there very often, so when I get a play, I'm keeping it."