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Sale grabs AL's top pitcher honor for June

White Sox left-hander fanned 75 in month, extended double-digit K streak

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale was named the American League Pitcher of the Month on Thursday, which should come as no surprise considering Sale's performance during June was one of the best months for a White Sox pitcher in franchise history.

The left-hander struck out 75 over 44 1/3 innings covering six starts in June, allowing 28 hits, eight walks and nine earned runs, finishing with a 2-2 record and an 1.83 ERA for the month. His 75 strikeouts stand as the most by any pitcher in any month since Nolan Ryan set the modern era record with 87 in June 1977 (STATS LLCS). Sale's 12 strikeouts against the Cardinals over eight innings on Tuesday extended his streak of double-digit-strikeout efforts to eight straight, which puts him with Pedro Martinez as the only hurlers in Major League history to fan 10-plus in eight consecutive games.

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As far as these accomplishments go, though, Sale doesn't pay much attention.

"Probably the least of anybody, really," said Sale after the White Sox 11-inning victory over the Cardinals Tuesday. "Those kinds of things don't really matter to me."

Sale joined the rotation full-time at the outset of the 2012 season after parts of two successful seasons in the bullpen. His 100th career start came against the Cardinals, and he already has accrued 878 strikeouts in 778 innings, while walking 195 and allowing 625 hits as part of the rotation.

His 141 strikeouts this season topped the Majors entering Thursday, as did his 12.281 strikeouts per nine innings. His 2.09 FIP only trails Max Scherzer's 2.01. Sale needs just two strikeouts in two remaining starts to beat Wilbur Wood for most strikeouts by a White Sox pitcher prior to the All-Star break.

All of these remarkable statistics are being posted despite Sale basically missing Spring Training due to an avulsion fracture in his right foot suffered during a home accident in Arizona. With 109 pitches or more thrown in 11 consecutive starts, manager Robin Ventura indicated Wednesday that Sale might get an extra day of rest and pitch Monday night against the Blue Jays and former teammate and mentor Mark Buehrle at U.S. Cellular Field.

By the time Sale takes the mound, he almost certainly will be honored with his fourth straight All-Star selection.

"He has enjoyed it and done well in the past, so you would understand anyone wanting him to pitch in that game," said Ventura of Sale. "For the importance of the game, they probably want the best guys to pitch and he's one of them."

"I go out and try to give my team a chance to win every time. That's really the main job as a starter, fill up innings and when you leave the game your team has a chance to win," Sale said. "That's the only thing I've put focus on. Filling up innings and leaving my team with a chance to win is all you can really ask for out of yourself."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast.
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