Sale's 10-K outing falls just short of history
MINNEAPOLIS -- For a majority of his outing Wednesday, White Sox ace Chris Sale looked dominant, mowing batters down and getting through innings quickly.
After striking out six Twins in the first three innings, Sale looked like he was on his way to becoming the first pitcher in Major League history to strike out 12 or more batters in six consecutive games.
But then came the fourth inning, when things started to unravel. Sale gave up three runs in the inning, and the White Sox eventually dropped the game, 6-1. He struck out 10, snapping his streak while falling just short of setting a new record.
Sale did, however, become the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2001 to strike out at least 10 batters in seven straight starts.
"It's cool to toss around, but it'd be a lot better if we were winning more games, for sure," Sale said.
Wednesday's game marked Sale's fourth loss of the season -- three of which have come against the Twins.
"They swing with authority and you never know when they're going to do it, first pitch, second pitch," Sale said. "They go up there with an idea of what they're going to do and stick to it, it seems like."
Minnesota tacked on three more in the seventh, which was more than enough run support for starter Phil Hughes, who gave up just one run -- a homer to Adam LaRoche -- in eight innings.
Sale got little support behind him, both offensively and defensively, as the White Sox made three errors and scored two or fewer runs for the second time in the three-game series.
"There's a lot that needs to improve offensively for us to give him a chance," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "If he goes out there -- every guy that's going out there -- if you're feeling like [if] you give up more than two, you're going to get beat, it's tough to pitch like that."
Center fielder Adam Eaton, who made an error that led to a run in the seventh, said the team needs to play better defensively behind Sale, too.
"We've got to play better behind him and make plays," Eaton said. "We've got to be on our toes and ready to field the ball when it comes to us."
The Twins had been struggling offensively for the better part of June coming into the series, but they seem to have figured out Sale this season. In 23 2/3 innings pitched, Sale has given up 17 earned runs against Minnesota, for a 6.46 ERA. His ERA against everyone else is a paltry 1.88.
"Chris had two tough innings. Other than that, he pitched well," Ventura said. "These guys find a way to get it done when they get guys on base."
After giving up three runs in the seventh, Ventura came out to check on Sale. The left-hander got Twins first baseman Joe Mauer to ground to second for the second out of the inning, but the 10-pitch at-bat ended his day two strikeouts short of history. Sale's streak of 38 consecutive innings with at least one strikeout was also snapped in the fourth.
"I wasn't going to leave him out there just to get the record," Ventura said. "If he gets it, great, but I didn't leave him out there so he could go get a record. I wouldn't hang him out to dry or jeopardize anything if he didn't feel like he was strong enough."