This game could've ended a little smoother, but Chris Sale's return from the disabled list couldn't have gone any better, and he still came away with the victory to show for it.
Sale struck out 10 Yankees over six innings, retiring the first 17 batters before Zoilo Almonte lined a single to center. That ended a perfect game bid, and any arguments that may have resulted from it.
I'm guessing Robin Ventura would've gone to the bullpen to start the seventh regardless, with Sale at 86 pitches and the White Sox leading 2-0, but he didn't have to consider any historical implications to do so. Besides, Sale already had a line for the ages.
Chris Sale is 1st pitcher in at least last 100 yrs with 10+ K, 0 BB, 0 R and 1 H or fewer allowed vs Yankees.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) May 23, 2014
Instead, Ventura could use Zach Putnam, Daniel Webb, and an erratic Ronald Belisario to close it out.
Through eight innings of Sox pitching, it looked like Adam Dunn's RBI single was more of a style point. Belisario rendered it necessary, however. He struck out Brett Gardner (which turned into a 2-3 putout when it got away from Flowers), then gave up a single to Ichiro Suzuki, and that's when it got interesting.
Jacoby Ellsbury smoked a liner to left, but Alejandro De Aza ran it down for the second out. Then he fell behind Derek Jeter and walked him, bringing the tying run to the plate. During a battle with Mark Teixeira, he threw a slider well wide and Flowers couldn't snare it, leading to another passed ball and putting both runners into scoring position. Both runners scored when Teixeira lined a single to center, bringing Alfonso Soriano to the plate.
Belisario fell behind Soriano 3-1, got him to foul off a sinker to load the count, and struck him out on a high sinker that Flowers didn't catch cleanly and Soriano thought was a ball. He was removing his armor when Flowers placed the tag on him.
The save was a sloppy one, but it allowed everybody to savor Sale's start. He ppened the game by striking out the side on a slider, a fastball and a changeup, and he never let up. They had a hard time even fouling pitches off, and Amonte's single was the only well-struck ball. He worked between 94-95 mph most of the evening.
David Phelps was a little easier to hit, but the Sox could only get to him in the second. Paul Konerko drilled a double to the right-center gap with two outs, and Alejandro De Aza dotted the chalk with a slicing fly just out of reach of a diving Almonte, bouncing into the stands for an RBI ground-rule double. Flowers drew a walk, and Adam Eaton shot a single to left to score De Aza.
Otherwise, the Sox only mounted a serious threat in the fourth. Alexei Ramirez singled, stole second with one out, and moved to third on Flowers' hard single to left. Eaton then made good contact, but it was easy enough to catch for shortstop Brendan Ryan.