Sale's slider stunned Mariners in his first Complete Game victory. This is one way to make him a closer, I suppose.
Chris Sale was the story of the day once again, on a beautiful Sunday in Chicago that saw the Sox take the series from the Mariners and extend their season head-to-head record 5-1. Sale threw his first career complete game in 119 pitches (81 strikes); and only allowed two runs on a homer to Miguel Olivo in the 2nd inning. From there, he was dominant, with his slider filthy as ever. He retired eight batters on strikeouts, including two K's to Olivo, who finished the game by working Sale to the last drop, before swinging through a slider on the 9th pitch of the at-bat.
Olivo's 2-run bomb to deep center (around 450 ft, I believe) put the Mariners on the board in the top of the 2nd. In the bottom of the inning, Kevin Millwood walked Kosuke Fukudome with one out, followed by a single by Alexei Ramirez. A wild pitch to Eduardo Escobar advanced the runners to 2nd and 3rd, and he walked soon thereafter. With bases loaded and two down, Brent Lillibridge came to the plate and worked an 0-2 count full, and then watched as a fastball grabbed the outer edge of the plate. Rather than ring him up, Joe West gave him the base, and the Sox put their first run on the board. Millwood threw 37 pitches in the 2nd and the M's had their bullpen working early.
The bottom of the 3rd inning began with a dreaded lead-off walk to Adam Dunn. Dayan Viciedo then took a pitch on the forearm and Rios singled in Dunn from 2nd. Tie ballgame; but the inning ended all too quickly between a strikeout to Orlando Hudson and Ramirez grounding into a double-play.
Mariners had a flash of an opportunity in the 4th when Jesus Montero reached base on an infield hit to Ramirez. But Sale quickly retired the next three batters, including strikeouts to Dustin Ackley and Olivo, who were both two-time victims of Sale's slider today.
Millwood continued to struggle in the 4th inning with a lead-off single past third base for Tyler Flowers, followed by an Escobar single past second base into center, that put runners at the corners with no outs. Lillibridge struck out, but Beckham then hit a screaming single to left field which scored Flowers and put the Sox ahead 3-2. Dunn was intentionally walked to load the bases for Viciedo, who popped up to right for the second out. Alex Rios hit a ground ball up the middle, which bounced off of Millwood's foot and ricocheted to Brendan freakin' Ryan at shortstop, who threw to first and just missed getting Rios for the final out. Escobar scored and Sox lead widened to 4-2.
That was all the offense needed for the Sox to take the victory, but they continued to at least irritate the Mariners throughout the game. The Sox had runners on base every inning other than their final time at-bat in the 8th. Not bad for a Sunday lineup.
Overall, another enjoyable weekend of baseball from the White Sox, as they continue to hold down the first place fort. Even yesterday's drawn-out loss featured a fair amount of offense, climbing back from deficits and great bullpen pitching. Sox have an off-day tomorrow before two series to round out the week at home. First against Toronto and then the Astros next weekend, to kick off some inter-league play. Here's hoping the heat continues through June.
- Fukudome left the game in the top of the third with back stiffness. Escobar moved to left field, making his MLB outfield debut. Hudson came into the game to play third base.
- John Danks threw a bullpen session and expects to make a rehab start or two before coming off the DL.
- Escobar was 2-2 with 2 BB, improving his season line significantly to a still poor Brendan freakin' Ryan-esque .178/.275/.244. Unfortunately for opposing managers, Escobar is a switch hitter and thus outwits the platoon advantage.
- A number of White Sox players have the flu, resulting in offdays for many. Alejandro De Aza was held out of the lineup for that reason.
Record: 31-23 I Box