With a lopsided pitching matchup -- Chris Sale and his partial Cy Young credentials, vs. Esmerling Vasquez and his 9.35 ERA -- this one had the potential to be a blowout from the get-go.
Instead, the White Sox opted for the slow burn. The offense posted a run every other inning, even with the potential for a big crooked number. That was good enough for Chris Sale, who wasn't as efficient as he would like, but still good enough to throw six shutout innings en route to his 17th victory of the season.
Brett Myers and Matt Thornton (curiously appearing in low leverage!) finished off what ended up being a comfortable victory and a fine start to the weekend. They just took the scenic route in getting there.
Sale's stuff was there -- he had 93-95 mph when he wanted it, his changeup had good tailing action, and he added and subtracted to his breaking ball. His command wasn't quite 100 percent, leading to some extended at-bats and hard-hit balls. He didn't break, though, as he didn't walk anybody (one HBP) and gave up just three hits while striking out five.
The defense also picked him up, with Kevin Youkilis making a fine diving snare to his right to prevent what would have been a leadoff double in the fourth inning. He caught another hot shot immediately after, and after Justin Morneau smashed a line drive off the wall that Alex Rios limited to a single, Sale came back with a routine groundout to end the inning.
Sale saw little drama otherwise, which allowed the offense to gradually build a lead.
Rios led off the second with a double, moved to third on A.J. Pierzynski's flyout and scored on Dayan Viciedo's groundout for a quick 1-0 lead. Viciedo forced in the second run two innings later by drawing Vasquez's third consecutive walk in the inning, but Vasquez switched to his slow curve and had Alexei Ramirez out in front for a three-swing strikeout, and Gordon Beckham popped out to kill that rally.
Ramirez made up for it two innings later, greeting Kyle Waldrop with a smoked single past Trevor Plouffe for a two-out RBI single.
After an evening full of fat pitches, the Sox finally put the game out of reach in the seventh. Youkilis drilled a solo shot to left with one out, and Dewayne Wise followed with a single. With two outs, he stole second, then came around to score on Alex Rios' single to center. Wise's sac fly in the ninth was the cherry on top of Chicago's 12th victory over Minnesota in 16 games this season.
- Viciedo walked twice in a game for the first time in his career.
- De Aza took away a leadoff double himself when he made a full-speed, lunging grab to steal extra bases away from Trevor Plouffe.