Ace fans 12 over 7 2/3 in steamy Baltimore, beats Orioles for first time in career
By Connor Smolensky
BALTIMORE -- Chris Sale admitted to reporters after his Thursday start that he has been terrible against the Orioles in his career.
The left-hander entered the first game of Thursday's doubleheader with an 0-2 record and 5.06 ERA lifetime against Baltimore. He left, however, with his first win against the club and a season-high 12 strikeouts in the White Sox 3-2 victory over the Orioles.
"He really controlled his emotions as far as, it wasn't like he was all out all the time," manager Robin Ventura said of his ace. "He really had his soft stuff going today location-wise, and being able to add and subtract. I think that's the biggest thing. When he gets like that, he is really tough."
Sale, who grew up in Lakeland, Fla., was unaffected by the hot, sticky weather at Camden Yards and went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just four hits -- two of which were infield singles.
"This is what I grew up in," Sale said. "This is what I played every game of baseball in pretty much before college, so it was nice to get hot and get a little sweat going, stay loose."
Sale feeling loose resulted in a heavy dose of sliders that kept the Orioles off balance throughout his outing. The lefty said that his offspeed stuff was the best it's been all season, and he fell one out shy of his fourth consecutive start of eight innings or more.
It was in question whether or not Sale would go out for the eighth, as he entered the inning with 108 pitches. Ventura talked with Sale, who said he felt great, and the skipper stayed with him. Sale was pulled with two outs in the eighth with 120 pitches under his belt.
"Where we're at right now with the doubleheader, you like him to be able to go back out there," Ventura said.
Thursday's start was 11th time in Sale's career that he notched 12 or more strikeouts -- a mark that leads the Majors since 2012. He also extended his club record of posting double-digit strikeouts in 21 games.
"The main objective today was just fill innings, go as deep as I could in innings," Sale said. "Runs, walks, hits, all the other stuff, you get a doubleheader, you want to get as far into the game as you can on the first one."
Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.