White Sox edge Tigers on Sale's record night
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale struck out seven on his way to record the books and Adam Eaton hit a two-run double to give the White Sox a 2-1 victory over the Tigers on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale set the White Sox single-season record for strikeouts in a season with 270, surpassing a 107-year old mark.
Sale allowed one earned run in seven-plus innings of work in his last start of the season, finishing the 2015 season with 274 strikeouts. He was removed in the eighth inning after putting runners on first and second, but reliever Matt Albers recorded three straight outs to salvage Sale's 13th win.
"It's awesome," Sale said, "something that hasn't set in yet but I know what it means, I know what it is, I'm very thankful for it and appreciative of it.
"Looking over to the dugout seeing everybody standing up and the crowd was going crazy so that took a little to soak in and appreciate that moment. It comes and goes real quick but I'll never forget that."
Sale finished the season with 24 games in which he struck out seven or more batters as well as 23 games in which he threw a quality start.
Eaton's double in the third inning off starter Alfredo Simon was all the offense Chicago needed on the night. Simon was still impressive himself, surrendering just five hits in eight innings of work while striking out only one batter.
"It's been kind of a roller coaster season for him," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's been real good and real bad, and tonight he was real good. Unfortunately he was going up against a real good pitcher on the other side, but he pitched outstanding."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
King of K's: It took Sale just six batters to top Ed Walsh's single-season strikeout mark set in 1908. Sale struck out James McCann in the second inning with a slider to set the mark after getting Rajai Davis and Nick Castellanos in the first inning. Walsh set his record over 468 innings, but Sale needed just 203 innings to best it. His previous best had been 226, set in 2013. Sale finished with 274 strikeouts this season, the fourth-highest total in the Majors since 2004, trailing Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Randy Johnson.
"I think when you add in that he didn't really have a spring training, a normal spring training, to be able to come back and do this is special," said White sox manager Robin Ventura. "It just puts him up there with the elite. Tonight, it just seemed like there was a little something extra in there even right from the start. Sometimes you sit there and wonder, three strikeouts can be tough, but he went right after it I thought. He laid it all out there." More >
Marte mash: Outside of Davis and J.D. Martinez, the rest of the Tigers' lineup entered 3-for-18 in their careers off Sale. Jefry Marte had never faced him until he led off the inning and sent a line drive over the left-field fence for his fourth home run of the year.
"He's got power, there's no question of that," Ausmus said. "He swings particularly well against left-handed pitchers, and actually hit a couple of other balls pretty well."
Shuck saves Sale: When Sale wasn't relying on strikeouts, he benefited from his defense to get out of innings. With two outs in the seventh inning, Dixon Machado's hit to right field looked ready to fall for a double, but J.B. Shuck leapt to take away the hit. The ball popped up away from Shuck, but he held on with his bare hand while laying on the ground.
"You're talking about pitches and outs that matter and to be able to get this done the way we did it, collectively as a group, it was satisfying," Sale said. More >
Machado, man: An inning after being robbed by Shuck, Machado answered with a lunging grab and leaping, acrobatic throw from shallow left field to retire Melky Cabrera and end the eighth.
"That is the first time that I did that, jumping," Machado said. "I've made plays like that before, but running. It's something that everything was perfect. I just decided to jump and throw."
"Well the creator of it is in the building. You have to have fun in this game. Talking to the whole LaRoche squad about it is something that came into my mind. I thought if there's nobody on base and I get a guy with two strikes, let's flip one in there just for fun. The worst thing that happens is I give up a homer. And I did that before so got that out of the way." -- Sale, after throwing an Eephus pitch in the second inning, honoring Dave LaRoche, the creator and father of teammate, Adam More >
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Albers extended his scoreless appearance streak to 20 games and scoreless innings to 22 1/3 after his clean eighth inning. That extends a career-high in both marks for the nine-year veteran.
"He's been the hot hand," Ventura said. "I know at the start of the season we probably wouldn't have seen him in there in the eighth inning but he's really been big for us, coming up in big spots and right there was a good one to salvage that."
Tigers: Justin Verlander makes his final start of the season Saturday night at 7:10 p.m. ET looking for his third straight win and his sixth victory of the season. He topped the White Sox with seven innings of three-run ball and eight strikeouts Sept. 23 at Comerica Park. Miguel Cabrera is expected to return to the lineup one last time, likely wrapping up his quest for a fourth batting title in five years.
White Sox: Erik Johnson takes the hill for the White Sox in Game 2 of a three-game series against the Tigers on Saturday. The rookie right-hander allowed two earned runs and six innings when he faced the Tigers on Sept. 21, matching a career-high nine strikeouts in a single game. First pitch from U.S. Cellular Field is slated for 6:10 p.m. CT.
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