Sale sets career high with 227th strikeout
Left-hander needs 41 K's to break White Sox franchise record
CHICAGO -- With his fifth strikeout recorded during the White Sox 3-0 loss to Boston on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, Chris Sale set a single-season personal high with 227 punchouts.
Travis Shaw was the victim, swinging through a 91 mph Sale fastball for the first out of the fourth. Sale finished with seven K's, moving his total to 229 and pushing him within 41 of breaking Ed Walsh's single-season franchise mark of 269 set in 1908.
Sale's 2015 season ranks fifth on the franchise strikeout list, breaking a tie with … Chris Sale. The southpaw recorded 226 during the 2013 season, reaching that total over 214 1/3 innings. He needed only 171 1/3 innings to hit his mark this year.
But with all the hoopla over Sale's incredible stuff and the specter of 300 strikeouts hovering, the 26-year-old focused, as expected, on the team rather than individual accomplishments. Sale finished with a no-decision after his seven scoreless innings, and he implored the White Sox to keep pushing toward that elusive postseason goal -- despite losing a series they simply couldn't afford to lose with the uphill climb ahead and 37 games to play.
"This is definitely crunch time. A time to get going," Sale said. "We know what we are up against, but you know this is baseball. This is sports. This is a crazy game.
"Anything can happen. We aren't giving up on the season. We definitely aren't going to give up on ourselves or each other. This is a good group of guys. We are pulling from the same rope. Pick each other up, and keep going."
Sale wasn't at his sharpest on Wednesday -- but the Red Sox still were unable to score off one of the game's top pitchers. Sale admitted to having trouble with the arm-side fastball, and his changeup wasn't at its best. So he and catcher Tyler Flowers made some in-game adjustments and moved forward.
"You're watching one of the best pitchers in the game. He does his thing," third baseman Tyler Saladino said. "If a guy gets on base against him, you're even more ready but at the same time he has the ability to get right back after the next guy. It's just awesome watching him out there."
Walsh holds the White Sox top four strikeout totals at 269, 258, 255 and 254, all numbers Sale will likely surpass in '15 if he stays healthy. But more than records, Sale wants team success and ultimately wants to have a chance to pitch playoff baseball.
"I would love it. Really, we show up to Spring Training, every team shows up with the same goal, and that's getting to the postseason," Sale said. "It doesn't matter how you get there. Once you get to the postseason, sometimes the best teams don't win. Just getting there is enough.
"It's cool," added Sale of the strikeout mark. "But at the end of the day, there's really only one stat that matters and that's wins. We just have to keep fighting."