Realistically, why would a team not want one of the game's best pitchers on the mound as much as possible, one of the game's best in the midst of an historic run. But on the day after a tough 2-1 loss, when closer David Robertson could not hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning for Sale, Ventura had no second thoughts about removing Sale at 111 pitches after eight innings.
"As many pitches as he had the last time, what he goes through in between starts, our history over the years of when he gets up there in pitches what that effect is, and I know that," Ventura said. "Everybody else doesn't know that, but Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper] and I know that.
"Actually, we were hoping we would score some more runs where he wouldn't even get up to where he was. It's tough, but that's part of the game. You have to be able to take him out, and Robbie has to be able to come in and get the outs. It didn't happen last night. That's the human part of it. That's a guy that it didn't work out for him."
Sale was coming off of a 125-pitch performance against the Rays on Sunday, but he had struck out the side in the eighth and needed seven pitches to get through the seventh Friday. He also had extended his streak to five straight starts where he has fanned 12 or more hitters, joining Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in Major League history to accomplish such a feat.
There was an impressive clubhouse moment postgame where Sale stridently stood up for the struggling offense, showing the southpaw once again as a true team leader.
"The way it's going, it's easy to sit there and point fingers, but that's his maturity level," Ventura said. "His leadership qualities are coming out. You are looking at a guy that is in his fourth year of starting.
"This is what is taking shape. This is the guy that he has become. It's impressive."
Ventura spoke with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf prior to Friday's game, standing in front of the dugout, with general manager Rick Hahn also present. It's not an uncommon occurrence, with Reinsdorf often outside taking in batting practice, but Ventura understands there are questions to be answered for his boss in these sorts of tough times.
"He's like anybody else, he wants to know what's going on," said Ventura of Reinsdorf. "I think he'd probably look at the offense and say, 'Why?' But you have those conversations, they're very up front and honest about it. He knows the team. You give him the answers for the questions that he asks."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog,
Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.