CHICAGO (MCT) — While the White Sox showed improvement Wednesday night in their attempt to solve left-handers, their own Chris Sale continued to demonstrate why he has been as reliable as any lefty starter in the American League.
Sale limited the Twins to two hits in seven innings as he continued his impressive transformation from the bullpen and the Sox capitalized on their opposition’s sloppy play for a 6-0 victory.
“He just has that ability to make people swing and miss, and if you’re on the wrong side of him in a count, he can make good hitters look bad,” Paul Konerko said. “And there aren’t too many of those guys walking around.”
Through nine games (eight starts), Sale (5-2) leads all qualifying AL left-handers with a 2.50 ERA. He also has limited opponents to three runs or fewer in all eight starts. Against the Twins, Sale allowed only one baserunner past first.
Since 1921, only three Sox pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in their first seven career starts or more — Fred Klages (12, 1966-67), Cisco Carlos (13, 1967-68) and Gary Peters (13, 1963).
“Part of pitching is finding a groove and rolling with it,” Sale said. “I felt early that I got into a groove and (catcher A.J. Pierzynski) was back there calling one of the best games I’ve seen him call in a while. It was fun.”
He credited the team’s training staff for preventing a recurrence of the soreness he felt three weeks ago that caused him to be pulled from the rotation temporarily.
Orlando Hudson, making his first major league start at third base, aided Sale two with exceptional defensive plays.
“I have a long way to go,” Hudson insisted.
Meanwhile, the Sox, who entered Wednesday’s game with a .214 batting average against left-handers — tied with the A’s for second lowest in the AL — collected nine hits in six innings off left-hander Scott Diamond.
The most impressive blow was Alex Rios’ two-run homer in the fourth that gave Sale ample support. Rios’ line drive shot landed in the Sox’s bullpen in left field and was his first home run since April 7.
Konerko had three hits, including a home run off Alex Burnett in the seventh, to raise his batting average to .381.
“It’s like he’s playing video games,” Sale said. “He’s just so talented and has such a good eye and he’s so patient. He doesn’t get down on himself when something goes wrong.”
The large lead meant a closer wasn’t needed but manager Robin Ventura confirmed before the game what has been obvious for the last two weeks — rookie Addison Reed has the job.
“He has earned that, and I feel comfortable putting him in there,” Ventura said of Reed, who is 4-for-4 in save opportunities.