ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox bench coach and interim manager Mark Parent and Minor League hitting coordinator and interim bench coach Vance Law were talking after the White Sox 2-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field concerning how an opposing scout would evaluate the seven-start run of sheer dominance produced by Chris Sale, which included 12 strikeouts on Sunday.
"I said, all you would want to do is say, 'I'd take him on my team.' That's all you'd say," said a smiling Parent, of his talk with Law. "This guy is really good. He's amazing."
Amazing, really good, unhittable, video game ridiculous and yet, in this series finale, Sale wasn't quite overpowering enough. Actually, Sale was plenty strong, walking three and allowing three hits over 6 2/3 innings and 125 pitches to go with his punchouts.
Take a leadoff walk in the seventh issued by Sale to Steven Souza Jr., a poorly located fastball by Sale that Asdrubal Cabrera hit out in the ensuing at-bat, and a White Sox offense that finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and now you have the full picture as to why the South Siders were swept.
Sale could have complained about the White Sox having a runner in scoring position in each of the first six innings and scoring just once, but in the true example of a leader, the southpaw pointed the finger of blame back at himself.
"You look at my last few starts and I've had more than my fair share [of support]," Sale said. "Today was my night to pick them up and I didn't. Plain and simple. I got beat."
"Watching him pitch today was awesome," Parent said. "The letdown is really not getting him some runs."
This setback overshadowed Sale adding to his growing list of historic achievements.
Sale became the ninth pitcher in baseball history to have a double-digit strikeout streak of five or more games. He hit 12 strikeouts for a fourth straight game, joining soon-to-be Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to reach that lofty mark since the data became available (1914). His 24 games with double-digit strikeouts are a franchise record, as are his 14 games with 12 strikeouts or more.
Of his 105 strikeouts this season, Sale's 84 swinging rank second only to Chris Archer's 96. In his last seven starts, Sale has fanned 79, walked 10, and allowed 27 hits and 10 earned runs over 53 1/3 innings.
Here's one more stat that is sure to make White Sox fans cringe. Sale became the first player in franchise history to have 12-plus strikeouts, allow three hits or fewer and lose.
"To have them pretty much where you want them and then a stupid mistake walking the guy and leave a fastball right down the middle and lose the game," Sale said. "There's really nothing more than that."
"He pitched well again today," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. "One mistake after a tough at-bat and a walk, that's a bad combination for any pitcher."