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Another Sale gem, but another no-decision

White Sox haven't backed ace, who's faced Verlander, Felix in past three starts
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The statistics compiled by Chris Sale over his past four starts scream out "White Sox ace" as well as "prime American League Cy Young contender."

Sale has a 1.91 ERA during that stretch, adding the two runs he allowed over eight innings in Detroit's 5-3 victory in 11 innings Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. He has worked 33 innings, reaching at least eight innings in four straight starts for the first time in his career, allowing 22 hits while striking out 36 and walking seven.

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CHICAGO -- The statistics compiled by Chris Sale over his past four starts scream out "White Sox ace" as well as "prime American League Cy Young contender."

Sale has a 1.91 ERA during that stretch, adding the two runs he allowed over eight innings in Detroit's 5-3 victory in 11 innings Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. He has worked 33 innings, reaching at least eight innings in four straight starts for the first time in his career, allowing 22 hits while striking out 36 and walking seven.

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What these numbers shouldn't indicate is a 1-1 individual record and a 1-3 team mark, which stands as the White Sox ledger over that stretch. Sale has gone against Justin Verlander twice and Felix Hernandez once in his past three starts, with the White Sox coming up a little bit short behind him.

Video: DET@CWS: Ventura on pitching, extra-innings loss

"We've done a great job of battling those guys," Sale said. "You're talking about two of the best pitchers in the league over the last 10 years. You know what you're getting when they come to town. Just try to be as good as you can and go from there."

Verlander and Sale provided everything any fan of good pitching could have asked for in this series opener. There were moments of dominance, with Verlander fanning 11 against one walk and Sale striking out eight without issuing a free pass.

There were moments where they both had to find that extra gear associated with No. 1 pitchers. Verlander stranded runners at first and third in the sixth and seventh with strikeouts, while Sale left Miguel Cabrera at second in the eighth getting Victor Martinez to ground out to second on his 118th and final pitch.

Cabrera got to Sale twice for solo homers in the first and third. But when one of the best pitchers in the game goes against possibly the best hitter over the past 15 to 20 years, someone has to win.

"If he's having a good day, sometimes it doesn't matter who the pitcher is," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It just happened to be Chris Sale today. But other than that, Chris Sale pretty much had his way with our lineup."

"He's done it for a long time. He's been doing the same thing for years," said Tigers left fielder Justin Upton, who delivered the game-winning three-run homer in the 11th. "He locates his fastball. He threw his offspeed stuff really well today. He was able to get the slider in, under our hands, and that changeup was moving pretty good."

Sale sits at 15-7 with a 3.07 ERA over 27 starts and 193 2/3 innings. He has given up 154 hits, 42 walks and fanned 192. Those are numbers deserving of a postseason chance, but for the second straight year, lofty early expectations have turned to near-elimination in September for Sale and the White Sox.

"Top to bottom, no one's happy about it. It falls on us, mostly," Sale said. "You just have to look yourself in the mirror and say, 'What have we got to do to change it?' Everybody does. We have to find a way to be better next year. Hold your head up high, but we've got to change something."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale