Tonight, Chris Sale was overpowering in a way he hadn’t been this season. The Condor went the distance, retiring the last 16 he faced. Of those last 16 he retired, 10 were by strikeout, including a run of six in a row at one point. He allowed just five hits and an HBP over his nine innings, recording a season-high 14 punchouts.
Alas, it didn’t result in a win for a couple reasons.
One was Sale, who fell into a 3-0 hole with single runs in the second, third and fourth inning. Franklin Gutierrez took him deep for the first run. A leadoff HBP came around to score in the third inning, in part because Sale and Todd Frazier let a sac bunt fall between them, allowing the bases to be loaded with nobody out (Sale limited the damage with a run-scoring double play).
When lefty Adam Lind poked a two-out double to the left center gap for Seattle’s third run, it looked like a thoroughly mediocre night on tap. Then Sale struck out Shawn O’Malley to end the inning, and the Mariners never reached base again, even though they saw Sale into a fourth lineup rotation. He completed the game on 120 pitches (88 strikes).
The White Sox offense just couldn’t get back in the game. Sox hitters had a tough task in Felix Hernandez, but they made it even tougher on themselves by wiping out their own baserunners. Frazier was picked off after a leadoff walk in the second, and J.B. Shuck met the same fate in the third after starting the inning with an infield single. Omar Narvaez then made it three TOOTBLANs in four innings in the fifth by breaking toward second on Shuck’s liner to Robinson Cano and getting caught too far from first on a 4-3 double play.
When Justin Morneau grounded into a double play in the seventh, it appeared that Hernandez could be on course for a Maddux. Fortunately, Frazier took him way out to left for his 32nd homer, cutting Seattle’s lead to 3-1, after which the offense started stringing together plate appearances. In the eighth, the Sox had the bases loaded with one out after two singles and an Adam Eaton walk that spelled the end of King Felix’s night.
In came Edwin Diaz to face Tim Anderson with the bases loaded, and after getting ahead 0-2, he got Anderson to chase a slider. Anderson almost hit it weakly enough to make it productive, but O’Malley made an excellent charging play from third in time to force out Shuck at home. Jose Abreu then tried jumping on a first-pitch slider, but he ended up popping out in front of the White Sox dugout to end the inning.
Diaz faced far less drama in the ninth, striking out the side.
*Sale took the loss to drop to 15-7, but he improved other Cy Young credentials. He boosted his strikeout-to-walk ratio (14 to zero) and lowered his ERA (3.14) after throwing his MLB-leading fifth complete game.
*One reason why the Sox offense couldn’t get much going: Narvaez was the sixth-place hitter, followed by Avisail Garcia, Shuck and Tyler Saladino. That’s a pretty soft final four when Melky Cabrera is sick.