The last time Chris Sale pitched, we learned that the White Sox can't win if he makes one mistake.
Tonight, we learned that Sale can pitch mistake-free baseball, and they're still not guaranteed anything.
The Condor struck out 14 Rangers over eight scoreless innings. He held them to two measly singles, the first coming after Sale retired the first 17 to start the game. Not one Ranger reached scoring position on his watch.
With a 1-0 lead and a pitch count of 111 -- a non-negligible number, considering Mark Parent overtaxed him for 126 unofficial pitches the start before -- Robin Ventura wisely turned it over to David Robertson for the ninth.
Long story short, the White Sox have now lost eight in a row.
Short story long, Robertson had one out and a 1-2 count on Shin-Soo Choo ... and then he lost him. A walk to Choo, a single by Elvis Andrus, and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with still just one out. Robertson came back to strike out Joey Gallo, but he intentionally walked Prince Fielder to face Mitch Moreland, and the outcome wasn't any better: a two-run single that won the game. So Robertson is Scapegoat No. 1.
Scapegoat No. 2 is the White Sox offense, which has now scored a total of six runs over its last six games. With Sale offering lockdown pitching, the Sox tried to get by with the Opening Day 2013 playbook (a Tyler Flowers solo homer), and, hey, it almost worked.
Otherwise, the Sox helped Colby Lewis lower his ERA for the second time this month, as he allowed just one run on nine hits and zero walks over eight innings. He struck out seven, and still only used up 108 pitches.
The Sox' two best scoring chances died with Melky Cabrera. He went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and five stranded, including a bases loaded flyout to shallow right in the eighth inning, and a popout to second with two on in the ninth to end the game. Both batted balls offered brief windows of hope, but only because it looked like the second baseman might stumble over himself. Alas, Hanser Alberto made a nice catch in the eighth inning, and Rougned Odor had no issues with the game-ender.
It doesn't help that the Sox keep thinking Avisail Garcia is faster than he is. Joe McEwing tried waving him home from first on Conor Gillaspie's one-out double in the fourth inning, and a relay from one good arm (Leonys Martin) to another (Andrus) cut him down by about eight feet or so.
*Sale joined Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to strike out 12 or more batters in five straight starts, and the first pitcher since Johnson to strike out double digits in six starts.
*Jose Abreu almost cost Sale his perfect game bid in the fourth inning, but recovered from a iron mitt with a behind-the-back flip to Sale's bare hand, a la Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton back when baseball was fun.