Chris Sale's performance tonight couldn't quite match his one-hitter from Sunday. He didn't go the distance, and he allowed way more baserunners, and even had to escape a jam.
In terms of stuff, though, he bested himself.
It took Sale a couple innings to hit his stride, which put 98 pitches out of the question. He issued a pair of walks in the first inning to spoil the perfect game bid, and lost the no-hitter on Howie Kendrick's leadoff single in the second. But he erased Kendrick with a double play, and after freezing Hank Conger with a slider to end the inning, he was 35 pitches deep, but well on his way to glory.
He couldn't have thrown his slider any better.. Of his 12 strikeouts, he finished eight of them off with the breaking ball, and they became even harder to hit as the game wore on.
Sale executed two unhittable backdoor breaking balls against the Angels' two best hitters in the sixth inning. He started the frame with his biggest strikeout of the night, throwing the lowest, bottom-most backdoor slider allowed by Comcast's K zone to Mike Trout on a 3-2 count. Instead of a leadoff walk, Trout had to grab some bench, and he hated the call. Two batters later, he did the same thing to Mark Trumbo to get ahead 1-2. Two pitches later, with Trumbo covering the outside corner, Sale threw a 94-mph dart on the inside corner to end the inning.
Sale's final line: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K, 113 pitches, 79 for strikes. His streak of 23 scoreless innings has lowered his ERA to 2.53, and the win improves his record to 5-2 on the season.
He only needed one run, and Alex Rios gave it to him before Sale even took the mound. C.J. Wilson, whom Sale defeated in the one-hitter, retired the first two batters on seven strikes, and he started Rios out 0-2, too. But his 10th pitch and 10th strike -- a high cutter -- landed in front of the rocks in left-center for his 10th handsome home run of the year.
Wilson did his job to keep it close with seven strong innings of his own, but the Sox scratched him for another run before he left. Dayan Viciedo flared a single to center with one out and moved to second on a hit-and-run groundout by Jeff Keppinger. Up came Conor Gillaspie, who had hung in nicely against the lefty Wilson with nothing to show for it over his first two at-bats, didn't have that problem with his third. He redirected a Wilson fastball right past the pitcher's outstretched glove to bring home Viciedo, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead.
Adam Dunn hit a laser to right for a solo shot (his 10th), providing for Addison Reed the maximum save cushion. Reed didn't use it, as he recorded his second straight 1-2-3 save, and 14th overall.
- The Sox did commit an error, as Tyler Flowers' rushed throw to get Trout at second got past Keppinger. Trout moved to third, but Sale stranded him there by getting Josh Hamilton to pop out.
- Since last year, the Sox are 9-1 when Tom Paciorek sits in.
- Sale is 10-0 in his career against the AL West.