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White Sox 4, Indians 2: Given early cushion, Sale coasts


Making his first big-league start, Chris Sale was given a welcome basket by his teammates in the form of a three-run lead. Alejandro De Aza greeted Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin with a solo shot to lead off the game, and four batters later, A.J. Pierzynski one-upped De Aza with a two-out, two-run no-doubter of his own.

Sale never put the lead in jeopardy. Though he had some problems throwing first-pitch strikes, working from behind didn't seem to faze him. The Indians couldn't find a way to even bring the tying run to the plate after the second inning, which, not by coincidence, was the last inning Sale walked a batter.

For all the talk about his slider and changeup, his 95-mph high-and-away fastball was his best out pitch against an altered lineup that left the Indians underpowered. He retired 12 in a row at one point before an errant fastball nailed Shin-Soo Choo's hand. That led to the only Cleveland run, as Choo stole second (on Sale, not Pierzynski) and scored on Carlos Santana's RBI single.

Sale allowed only three hard-hit balls, and all came in the sixth or seventh innings. The latter frame started with a well-struck Shelley Duncan single, but Sale erased him by getting Jason Kipnis to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. That's how his night ended, as Robin Ventura pulled him exactly at 100 pitches.

Hector Santiago gave up a solo shot to Jose Lopez on his fourth straight misplaced fastball, but finished the ninth flyout-strikeout-strikeout to preserve the first victory by a White Sox starter this season.

The White Sox offense struggled with runners in scoring position once again, but at least Brent Morel was able to get the Sox off the 0-fer hook. With De Aza on second after a two-out double, Morel smashed a liner to right that glanced off first baseman Lopez's mitt and trickled into right field, driving home De Aza for a little more insurance.

But they wasted an opportunity in the eighth. Alexei Ramriez and Dayan Viciedo stood on second and third after a pair of singles and a wild pitch. With one out, the infielders had to come in, leaving plenty of room for Gordon Beckham to get a run home somehow. Alas, he could only manage a shallow flyout to Choo in right, and they didn't test his throwing arm.

Bullet points:

  • After making an outstanding diving catch the game before, Alex Rios dropped a routine flyball in front of the warning track.
  • Tomlin tied a career high with seven strikeouts, and Morel and Beckham were each victimized twice. They had a lot of trouble staying back on the slider.

Record: 2-2 | Box score | Play-by-play