"I think he's kind of put himself in a different league than I am right now," said Sale, speaking to the media during the White Sox 5-4 victory over the Dodgers before a Camelback Ranch sellout of 13,232 Saturday night.
"Getting compared to a guy like him is a compliment to me. He's the best in the game, without a doubt. There's no question. It's definitely something I appreciate but I have to go out and be myself."
When the White Sox and Dodgers play in Los Angeles on June 2-4, fans of both teams can only hope for a pitching matchup featuring Kershaw and Sale, as was the alignment on this warm Saturday night in Glendale. They didn't exactly look like aces in the first inning but showed flashes of their excellence while building up pitch counts for the regular season.
Kershaw threw 86 pitches over 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking one in his final spring start. Sale threw 55 of his 80 pitches for strikes, exiting after allowing one earned run on two hits over 4 1/3 innings, while fanning five, walking two and hitting three. Sale gave up a base hit to Kershaw in the second, after falling behind the opposing pitcher at 3-0.
"That hit the ego a little bit. That's just comical," said Sale, who struck out Kershaw in the fourth. "I can't really do anything other than laugh."
This contest started with Yasiel Puig reaching on a Sale error, when the lanky southpaw dropped a throw from first baseman Jose Abreu that was a little behind him as he tried to cover the base. Justin Turner singled to right, and after both runners moved up on a wild pitch, Sale hit Scott Van Slyke to load the bases.
Juan Uribe, who still holds a special place among the White Sox fan base and organization, scored Puig with a sacrifice fly and a walk to A.J. Ellis and Alex Guerrero getting hit by a pitch forced home another run. Joc Pederson's double play grounder with the bases loaded ended the jam and a rare wild stretch that lent itself to a humorous Sale comparison.
"Yeah, it was kind of like having Dish Network in the rain," Sale said. "You have it sometimes. You don't have it the next, and it comes back. Kind of scattered all over the place."
Adam Eaton got a run back in the bottom of the first, as he quickly circled the bases on an inside-the-park homer off of Kershaw. Eaton ripped a pitch to center and the ball sailed over Pederson's head. The White Sox added another run on Marcus Semien's double and Avisail Garcia's single and then scored three in the sixth on Garcia's three-run blast.
Up next: The Dodgers will depart for Australia on Sunday night, but not before hosting the Rockies at 1:05 p.m. PT at Camelback Ranch for the club's final Cactus League contest prior to Opening Day on March 22 in Sydney. Hyun-Jin Ryu, slated to start the second game down under against the D-backs, will get his final tuneup in Sunday's game on MLB.TV. In his first three outings this spring, Ryu posted a 2.45 ERA with seven strikeouts in 11 innings.