It's rather remarkable that as many great games as Chris Sale has thrown over the course of his career, his two-hitter against the Rays on Friday night marked only his second shutout. Hell, until last night, he had as many shutouts in his career as John Danks had in 2015 alone.
Part of it's a function of his stuff. When he's at his best, hitters struggle to even make contact, at least the kind that puts balls in play. He has 17 career outings with at least seven shutout innings; seven of them involved more than 10 strikeouts and more than 110 pitches, and neither were his shutouts. That's why he said he was willing to trade K's for shorter innings this season, because he already experienced setting the franchise record.
It's hard to say Sale has made any strides in that regard. While he needed just 106 pitches to set down the Rays, they lived up to their early billing as baseball's most aggressive offense.
Whatever the case, Sale reaped the benefits. He tied his personal best game score with a 92, matching these two other gems:
(The other shutout, against the Angels in 2013, was a Maddux.)
In the process, Sale joined Eddie Cicotte, Juan Pizarro (four) and Billy Pierce (five) as the only four pitchers in White Sox history to have at least three starts with game scores of 90 or better. While that's another impressive feat for Sale, it's also another reminder that Pizarro is criminally overlooked.
The woman who was struck by Steven Souza's foul ball was conscious and talking while medics moved her out of the stands and to a hospital near Tropicana Field. That's an unfortunate side effect of Sale's stuff -- his unusually sharp stuff induces unusually awkward swings, which sends some foul balls at angles you seldom see.
Robin Ventura isn't calling Zach Duke a LOOGY or a specialist, but with the White Sox in the unusual position of holding so many late-inning leads, he's inspired to do more matchups than he has in the past.
Major League Baseball is emphasizing some of Statcast's findings in broadcast booths and ballparks, which is cool. I'm still waiting for the context to catch up. Here's a good start from Rob Arthur and FiveThirtyEight, with a chart that shows the combinations of launch angles and exit velocities that are most likely to lead to hits.
- Twins ... Win? - Twinkie Town
- Braves use comeback to defeat Marlins, snatch first victory of 2016 - Talking Chop
The Twins finally broke through for five runs in a game, and it turned out to be good enough to support their first winning effort of the season. The Braves preceded them in the win column, but only by a matter of hours.
Dallas Keuchel got off to a start that didn't square up with his Cy Young-winning portfolio from 2015, thanks to decreased velocity and a major uptick in walks. Dave Cameron also sees that Keuchel isn't getting the kind of low strikes that helped him to make hay last year.
The Rangers have had opportunities to trade Adrian Beltre in the past, but they keep reupping him sooner than they have to. Lucky them.
- Pablo Sandoval reportedly could need shoulder surgery - Over the Monster
- Ex-trainer says Pablo Sandoval needs babysitter to control weight | Boston Herald
I'll take a dozen Adam LaRoche stories over a saga like the one with Pablo Sandoval in Boston. It's one thing to have an isolated event that highlights unstable interpersonal dynamics and creates occasional repercussions. It's another thing to have a bad baseball decision explode into three or four different problems that keep reiterating what an awful road your team chose.
In this case, Pablo Sandoval is getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews about his shoulder. The first opinion shared by many around Boston was that Sandoval was faking an injury because he didn't care to sit on a bench. That puts fans in an awkward position:
At the end of the day, this news might almost feel like a short-term relief just because we're all looking to stop thinking about Sandoval. But somehow, an actual injury resulting in surgery and a long stint on the disabled list would probably just be making the Sandoval situation even worse. Bet you didn't think that was possible, huh?