The value of Chris Sale, and great players like him, is that they cover up a lot of flaws elsewhere.
The White Sox made too many mistakes in this game ... and somehow, they never trailed. Sale's teammates might have given Minnesota chances to get back in the game, but Sale didn't take it any further.
Sale held the Twins to just one run over six innings, striking out eight while allowing just six baserunners. He only encountered one real jam, giving up an RBI double to Danny Santana with one out in the third, putting the tying run in scoring position. Sale came back to strike out Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer to end the threat, and only one other Twin reached second base on his watch.
He looked the part, too. Brooks clocked his highest fastball at 98.8 mph, and he had a lot of success pairing it with his changeup. He stayed away from his slider (only 10 out of 98 pitches), because he didn't have the sharp tilt on it yet.
Now, had the Condor needed a replacement for this game, it could have been a far more frustrating afternoon, because the Sox left some runs on the table with another imbalance of outs.
They greeted Phil Hughes with five straight hits in the first inning, but they only got two runs out of it. Jose Abreu got in the way by getting thrown out at third trying to take an extra 90 feet on Adam LaRoche's single. It appeared to be costly when Avisail Garcia followed with a single, but Alexei Ramirez added a double to put a crooked number on the board, at the very least.
Yet the Sox topped themselves an inning later. They benefited from a three-base error and another error, and yet they didn't score. Micah Johnson provided fodder for the first mistake when Eduardo Nunez dropped his routine fly ball to left, and credit Johnson for hustling. But then Johnson got thrown out at the plate by Eduardo Escobar on Adam Eaton's grounder to third*. Melky Cabrera then hit a routine pop-up to the left side with two outs, but Escobar dropped that one himself for the second error. That put runners on the corners, but Abreu couldn't capitalize, grounding out to short to end the inning.
(*While Johnson looked worse getting thrown out easily at home, he might've been dead at third if he tried going back, since Eaton's grounder took Escobar toward the bag.)
The gaffes extended to the defense in the eighth inning. Zach Duke came in with a 3-1 lead, and his teammates forced him to record five outs. First, Eaton broke back two steps on a one-out fly ball in front of him, and after Mauer put runners on the corners with a single, Duke jammed Torii Hunter into a flaccid bouncer to right. Instead of trading a run for an out, Abreu made a no-chance throw to home, leaving Duke with a one-run lead and two outs to go. Duke showed his mettle, though, getting Trevor Plouffe to pop out, and Escobar to ground out.
For that matter, the White Sox offense showed some resiliency. For all of its flaws today, it did a terrific job of getting runs back. When Sale gave up the run in the top of the third, Adam LaRoche hit Hughes' first pitch of the bottom half of the inning out to right for his second homer of the year, putting the Sox ahead 3-1.
Likewise, when the Sox put a run on Duke's tab in the top of the eighth, they roared back with support immediately. Blaine Boyer took over with one out, and the Sox pounced on him. Garcia shot a single to center, stole second, and scored on Ramirez's RBI single. Up came Gordon Beckham, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, but provided some offensive support by rifling a two-run homer into the White Sox bullpen. That put the game out of reach, but since David Robertson was already warm, he pitched a no-fuss 1-2-3 inning to close out the series victory.
*Nice job by Dan Jennings, who came on with one on and one out in the seventh to face pinch-hitting Oswaldo Arcia. Jennings induced a tapper back to the mound and calmly started an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.
*Eaton continues to scuffle. The poor read in the outfield was the last thing he needed, as he went 0-for-5 and failed to cash in the runner from third.
*Garcia's stolen base was the first for the White Sox in 2015. They were 0-for-2 on the year, among other ugly moments on the basepaths.
Record: 2-4 | Box score | Play-by-play | Highlights