ST. LOUIS -- Chris Sale, the pitcher, made history during the White Sox 2-1 victory over the Cardinals in 11 innings Tuesday night at Busch Stadium by joining Pedro Martinez as the only hurlers in Major League history to strike out 10-plus in eight straight games.
Sale, the accomplished pitcher, wanted to talk more about Chris Sale, the baseball athlete, following the White Sox third win on this eight-game road trip.
Along with the 12 strikeouts against one walk and one run allowed over eight innings, Sale picked up his first career hit with a two-strike single off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn in the third. Sale scored the team's only run until Tyler Flowers' game-deciding homer, and even slid in safely for good measure on Jose Abreu's single.
"The slide was a little much," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sale. "He was real proud that he got dirty."
"It's my first one in like nine years. What do you expect?" said a laughing Sale of Ventura's slide critique. "I got to do a few things I normally don't do. It was cool. I tell these guys I had two accidents today: the homer [allowed to Randal Grichuk], and the hit."
As far as the pitching accomplishments reached during his 100th career start, Sale didn't want to make those a featured topic. He comes from the Paul Konerko leadership school that in-season always is about team-first.
"Those kinds of things don't really matter to me," Sale said. "There's a time and a place for that stuff, and it's not now, not here."
So let's allow Sale's numbers to do the talking.
• In the month of June, Sale threw 44 1/3 innings over six starts. He allowed 28 hits and eight walks, while striking out 75. Those 75 strikeouts stand as a single-month franchise record. Yet, he finished the month with just a 2-2 mark.
• Sale struggled for 5 1/3 innings on May 6 against the Tigers and exited that no-decision with a 5.93 ERA. Since his next start on May 12, Sale has pitched 76 innings, given up 44 hits and 12 walks and fanned 115. His ERA has dropped to 2.87. Yet, in those 10 starts, Sale has a 4-3 mark with three no-decisions.
• Many Sale comparisons have been made to Randy Johnson during this strikeout run, but how about looking at both Johnson and fellow Hall of Fame southpaw Sandy Koufax at 100 career starts. Sale has 766 strikeouts over 682 2/3 innings, with a 2.81 ERA to go with a 46-30 record. Koufax had 557 strikeouts in 565 1/3 innings and a 30-37 mark with a 4.23 ERA, while the Big Unit featured a 38-34 ledger, a 3.97 ERA and 592 strikeouts over 621 1/3 innings.
Acknowledge it or not, Sale already is establishing himself as one of the game's best. Yet, it was the baseball and broken bat from his first hit, along with the victory, that had Sale going Tuesday.
"Running around, sliding, getting a hit. That's all fun," said Sale, who hasn't hit since high school. "But I'm not going to sit here and act like I did it on purpose. I broke my bat, so that's about as cheap of a hit as you possibly can get."