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White Sox 5, Rays 2: Early outburst enough for Chris Sale

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Offense delivers early with three first-inning runs for consecutive wins

Joe McEwing went 1-for-2 on the night.
Joe McEwing went 1-for-2 on the night.
David Banks

For the first time since April 13, the White Sox scored more than three runs. Chris Sale made sure they didn't need to, but a couple of crooked numbers were nice to see.

The White Sox gave Sale all the runs he needed with a three-run outburst off Jeremy Hellickson, setting what qualifies as an "easy night" on the South Side into motion.

The Sox jumped on the Rays righty early, with Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger kicking off the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles to tie the game at 1. Alex Rios kept it going with a walk, and two batters later, Paul Konerko lined a single to left. Joe McEwing waved home Keppinger, who used a clever slide around catcher Jose Lobaton to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Rios moved to third on the play and scored on a sac fly by Conor Gillaspie.

Additional runs would be harder to come by as Hellickson settled in. McEwing couldn't get Gillaspie home safely, as a perfect relay cut him down at the plate on an Alexei Ramirez in the fourth. They wouldn't tag him until the sixth, as Adam Dunn finally made a pitcher pay for working around Rios by following a leadoff walk with a two-run homer into the seats in right. That gave the Sox a 5-2 lead, and that's how it ended.

Sale threw seven strong innings, working out of some early trouble and efficiency issues. A leadoff walk to Desmond Jennings came around to score, thanks in large part to a brain fart by Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger failed to pursue Jennings (or the force at second) on a grounder to second, and that put Jennings in scoring position for Evan Longoria's two-out single.

Sale then pitched around two walks in the second -- eight straight balls to Jose Lobaton and Sam Fuld after two outs -- before getting Jennings to ground out to end the inning.

The night became easier as it went along. He had problems with Lobaton, who hit a solo homer in the fourth, and then a broken-bat single in the seventh, but the Rays didn't threaten otherwise. Sale helped out his own cause with a beautiful play that he probably shouldn't have made.

With one out in the fith, Ryan Roberts hit a weak chopper halfway down the third-base line. If Sale let it hit the ground, it would've kicked foul. Instead, Sale gloved it, turned around and made an on-target throw to get Roberts by a step.

Matt Lindstrom worked a perfect eighth, and Addison Reed limited the Rays to a leadoff single in the ninth. He's now 7-for-7 in save opportunities.

Bullet points:

  • Keppinger raised his average above the Mendoza Line with a 2-for-4 night (.202).
  • The Sox struck out 12 times, including three apiece by De Aza and Tyler Flowers.

Record: 9-12 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights