What do you call an unbeatable Sale? Chris

Lefty fourth White Sox pitcher to go 8-0 in first 8 starts of season; first in Majors since '08

May 14th, 2016

NEW YORK -- Chris Sale is tough to beat even on a night when the White Sox offense is not clicking on all cylinders.

Spot the four-time All-Star a six-run advantage, as the South Siders did during their 7-1 victory over the Yankees on Friday night at Yankee Stadium, and he's virtually unstoppable.

Sale actually has been perfect throughout the entire 2016 campaign: eight trips to the mound, eight victories. He joins Jon Garland (8-0 in 2005), John Whitehead (8-0 in 1935) and Eddie Cicotte (12-0 in 1919) as the four pitchers in franchise history to win their first eight starts.

Brandon Webb was the last Major League pitcher to win his first seven-plus starts, opening the 2008 campaign for Arizona with a 9-0 mark. Sale also joined Pedro Martinez and Fernando Valenzuela as the only MLB pitchers to start a season 8-0 with a sub 2.00 ERA since the pitcher's mound was lowered in 1969.

Whether the win-loss start matters as a sign of pitching excellence, what Sale has accomplished for the 24-12 White Sox sits near the top of his already lengthy list of accomplishments

"No doubt, but like I've said a million times, I wouldn't be here without these guys," said Sale, after throwing 71 of his 99 pitches for strikes in Friday's six-hit, complete-game effort. "Six runs in four straight outings, I don't know if there's a starting pitcher in the league that would complain about that given the defense they've played behind me as well.

"I'm not going to say it makes it easier, but it just takes the pressure off you and allows you to go out there and focus on throwing strikes. When your team puts you in a position like that, it makes it a little bit less stressful."

Chase Headley homered leading off the second for the lone run allowed by Sale. The lefty gave up four leadoff hits on Friday after the opposition was 5-for-51 starting an inning previously this season. So the Yankees had that going for them.

Otherwise, Sale put his pitching focus on cruise control when the White Sox scored three in the second and four in the third. He retired 15 straight into the ninth after Mark Teixeira singled in the fourth, struck out six and didn't issue a walk as his ERA dropped to 1.67 over 59 1/3 innings.

"You're seeing a more effective guy who can go deeper into games," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The last couple of years he wouldn't have been able to do this, finish off games."

"Hats off to him in keeping that good lineup off balance all night," White Sox leadoff man and right fielder Adam Eaton said. "Sale is a special individual."

Is Sale the best pitcher in the American League? That question brought a smirk from Ventura and a somewhat fiery answer concerning the possibility.

"I know he's very good, and he's playing for the White Sox," Ventura said. "I [don't care] if you want to say he's the best pitcher in the American League. I know he's going to be very good for us."

"My team allowed me to just go out there and focus on throwing strikes and not really worry about baserunners or giving up hits or anything like that," said Sale, who has a 0.99 ERA over his last six starts and has thrown at least seven innings in seven of his eight starts. "Just throw quality strikes and get out of there quick."