We're nearing the finish line for the SB Nation MLB Awards, with ongoing polls for:
Now we'll open the floor for the fifth category: Best Pitching Appearance.
You could create two lists -- games pitched by Chris Sale, and games pitched by everybody else. Sale recorded the five highest game scores of the season. But a couple other starts stand out in their own ways, so let's give the Condor some competition.
Chris Sale's 100-pitch complete game
Thanks to a rain delay cutting off his prior start after 40 pitches, Sale pitched a day earlier than scheduled for a Sunday afternoon tilt against San Diego on June 1. The Padres must've cursed their luck, because Sale threw a 100-pitch complete game, during which he spent just six whole pitches in the stretch. He retired the first 12 batters he faced, and after allowing a solo homer and a single, set down the last 14 batters. Nine strikeouts helped boost his game score to 88 for the highest single-game score by a Sox starter in 2014.
Jose Quintana strikes out 13
With some assistance from shadows due to a late-afternoon start time at U.S. Cellular Field on Sept. 13, Quintana set a career high in strikeouts -- as well as the Sox's single-game high in 2014 -- by fanning 13 Minnesota Twins over seven innings. He struck out six in a row at one point, which helped him limit the Twins to one run over seven innings for an uncharacteristically easy victory.
Chris Sale wins a 1-0 game
Sale prevailed in a battle of All-Star lefties on Sept. 11, shutting out the Oakland Athletics over eight innings to win a pitchers' duel against Scott Kazmir. He retired 17 A's in a row at one point, and limited them to just two Jed Lowrie singles and one opportunity with a runner in scoring position. Marcus Semien provided all the necessary offense with a solo homer.
Scott Carroll's debut
Carroll came from off the radar to make his major-league debut on April 27 at the age of 29. It wasn't going to be easy -- he drew the Tampa Bay Rays and David Price as opponents -- but he made it look that way. He held the Rays to one earned run over 7⅓ innings, while a leaky Tampa Bay defense undermined Price for an eventual 9-2 White Sox winner. With a large cushion, Robin Ventura had the luxury of pulling Carroll for maximum applause from his 36-member cheering section. After the game, he celebrated with his friends and family, and Adam Dunn picked up the tab.
Chris Sale dominates the Giants
This outing on Aug. 25 set a template for his start aginst the other Bay Area opponent 2½ weeks later -- eight shutout innings, a dearth of chances with runners in scoring position (two), a lot of strikeouts (12), and a run of consecutive batters retired (11). The only difference? He didn't get the win, because Petricka blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning.