All Chris Sale needed was one run, and the White Sox waited until the last possible moment in regulation to score one for him.
Melky Cabrera delivered a two-out single in the top of the ninth to finally break the scorelessness of it all, and Sale survived a couple of loud outs in the ninth inning to complete a two-hitter. The White Sox extended their winning streak to five games in the process.
Jimmy Rollins scored the game's only run, and the Rays facilitated it. He reached with a leadoff single that dropped just out of the reach of a sliding Desmond Jennings, but risked being stranded at first after Jose Abreu struck out, and Todd Frazier flied out. But Rollins was able to take advantage of a near-collision in right center, tagging up and getting to second well ahead of the flat-footed throw.
Up came Cabrera with a base open. With righty Alex Colome on the mound and
Avisail Garcia Brett Lawrie on deck, Kevin Cash could've forced either a great matchup or forced Robin Ventura into pinch-hitting. Instead, he went at Cabrera, and Cabrera pulled a single through the right side to bring in the one, only and game-winning run.
Credit the Sox for taking advantage of a couple breaks, because Rollins gave one to the Rays in the bottom of the seventh, and they couldn't capitalize. With a runner on first, two outs and a 3-2 count, Jennings hit a grounder to short. The runner was in motion to take away the force at second, but Rollins still had a routine throw to first, which he short-armed for some reason. Abreu couldn't corral the hop, and Sale had to contend with a runner in scoring position for the first time and Steven Souza at the plate.
Sale struck out Souza, but it the hardest of his nine strikeouts to watch, because Souza lined the second pitch through a hole in the screen, striking a woman in the head. The at-bat continued after a brief interruption, and afterward, the game was delayed before the start of the eighth to allow medics the time to cart her away from the stands.
Offense was just about impossible to come by. Sale wasn't fazed by the Rays' first-pitch-swinging approach, as he retired 16 straight hitters at one point and finished the job on just 106 pitches. He kept his best fastball under wraps until bigger situations in the middle innings, and his slider was just as devastating to righties as it was to lefties. Robin Ventura had the right idea by shifting him one spot ahead to give the bullpen a break. Jake Petricka was the only one who even got as far as throwing on the side.
Jake Odorizzi survived some hard contact early to find his own groove. Todd Frazier did his best Austin Jackson impression in the first inning, missing a two-run homer just inches foul before striking out. Alex Avila grounded into a 3-6-3 double play in the second inning to kill another threat, and Avisail Garcia's flare to right center was snared by Logan Forsythe with runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth.
That third out came with strings attached, though. Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier collided after Forsythe caught it, and both left the game. Odorizzi showed no ill effects from losing two up-the-middle players, as he went on complete the next three innings in order. He finished his night retiring the last 10.