It proved to be a smart choice. The mustachioed Sale whisked through the San Diego lineup, throwing a complete game on 100 pitches and facing just one batter over the minimum. Thanks to his effort, the Sox locked in a winning homestand (6-4) and head back on the road a .500 team.
Sale looked like he had no-hit stuff early on, picking up after his three no-hit innings against the Indians and retiring the first 12 Padres he faced. Chase Headley spoiled the perfect game, no-hitter and shutout on one swing, hammering a 2-1 fastball deep into the seats in left field to tie the game at 1.
Tommy Medica followed with a single through the right side to knock Sale out of the windup for the first time. Sale spent six whole pitches in the stretch, inducing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Jedd Gyorko. He struck out Yonder Alonso to end the fifth, and finished the game retiring the next 14 batters. His 100th and final pitch was a fastball that froze Everth Cabrera.
His finale line: 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. They'll take that.
The Sox didn't need every bit of Sale's effort, but he made the afternoon a lot more comfortable than four runs of offense usually allows. Sox hitters didn't take a lot of convincing swings against Eric Stults, who frustrated them by owning the low outside corner.
That said, he did drift over the plate with a few times with his soft stuff, and the Sox made him pay. Paul Konerko put the first run on the board in the second by hitting a knee-high, 89-mph fastball into the White Sox bullpen to give the Sox a 1-0 lead in the second.
After the Headley homer, Tyler Flowers answered in the bottom of the fifth with a solo shot of his own, one-handing a 69-mph curveball just over the fence in left for a 2-1 lead. An inning later, Stults tried one more lollipop curve with two on and two outs, and Konerko lined it over the third baseman's head for a two-run double.
That was the Sox' lone hit with runners in scoring position ... out of three whole chances. The Sox only had eight baserunners total, but that's four times better than what the Padres could do against Sale.
*At two hours and eight minutes, this might be the fastest game the White Sox play all year.
*The Sox totaled just 15 hits over the three-game series, but at least they figured out the extra-base hit button. They smacked two homers and two doubles today, after mustering just a single double in each of the first two games.
*Marcus Semien was optioned to Charlotte after the game, opening a spot for Jose Abreu. So the White Sox are back to carrying three first basemen just as they head to a National League park.