SEATTLE -- The story of Friday night's game at Safeco Field was always going to be about the electric matchup between White Sox starter Chris Sale and Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. And while Chicago's 11-4 victory wasn't a taut pitching duel, there was more than enough intrigue taking place on the mound.
Sale earned the win with seven innings of three-run ball and struck out 14 batters, giving him 29 punchouts in his last 14 innings and 222 for the season, the current Major League lead. He had a one-hitter going until the seventh, when he gave up crisp singles to Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano and a three-run home run to Mark Trumbo.
"Any time you've got a big matchup it's always fun," Sale said of going against Hernandez. "You try to go out and do the best you can every time but it's hard not to find yourself in the moment and a little amped up."
Fortunately for Sale, the White Sox had built a 4-0 lead to that point, fueled by a Jose Abreu RBI double in the fourth, an Adam Eaton RBI single in the fifth, and a two-RBI double by Carlos Sanchez in the sixth. The Sox also scored four insurance runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth off beleaguered Seattle relievers Fernando Rodney, Rob Rasmussen and David Rollins.
Meanwhile, Hernandez just didn't have it … again. His line wasn't nearly as crooked as it was in his previous start, when he gave up 10 runs on 12 hits in 2 1/3 innings vs. Boston, but the veteran righty allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings and has lost two games in a row for the first time this year. His ERA rose to a season-high 3.74.
"I think I made one mistake," Hernandez said, referring to the pitch on the Sanchez double. "It's the one pitch I would take back…. It could be a different ballgame."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Abreu answers the bell: Abreu has been one of the best hitters in the American League with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break, and he showed why in his second at-bat against Hernandez. With Tyler Saladino at first and nobody out in the fourth inning, the 28-year-old lined a ball to the right-center gap just out of the reach of center fielder Austin Jackson for his 24th double of the season. Saladino scored easily to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead and Abreu his 27th RBI in his last 29 games.
Sanchez stacks on insurance: Cano made an outstanding throw to nab Sanchez at third to end the sixth, but not before Sanchez notched RBIs No. 20 and 21 to give Sale a little extra cushion. Sanchez lined a 1-2 sinker to right for extra bases, scoring Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia to make the score 4-0. It would be Hernandez's final pitch of the night. More >
Trumbo hits big: The Mariners were quiet offensively until the seventh, with only a first-inning double by Ketel Marte, when Cruz and Cano singled to set up Trumbo for his homer, an opposite-field line drive into the right-field bleachers. Trumbo has now hit six home runs and driven in 18 runs in his last 36 games.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cruz punched a single to right field in the seventh inning to extend his streak of reaching base safely to a career-high 31 games and added the homer late. The active on-base streak is the longest in the American League this season.
"It's our job to pick each other up. It's our job to obviously pick up the starters, but pick ourselves up, too. We're a family and a little bit of a fraternity down there, and we want to pick each other up. Unfortunately tonight I didn't get to do that for Fernando. I really wish I would have." -- Rasmussen More >
It's been more stressful than you guys think it is. There's a lot of responsibility. Probably a bad call on Trumbo, I guess he was looking out and over the plate. It's a lot of fun, but you see how hard it is to hit, sometimes it's hard to catch him, too. It's a challenge. -- Tyler Flowers, on Sale
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Eaton was ruled safe on a steal of second base in the first inning, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon challenged the play and it was overturned by the umpiring crew.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox: Rookie left-hander Carlos Rodon (5-5, 4.42 ERA) takes the ball Saturday in the second game of a three-game series at 6:10 p.m. PT at Safeco Field. Rodon is 1-1 in his last two starts with a 1.20 ERA, pitching seven or more innings in both of those starts. He has never faced the Mariners but is 1-2 with a 3.62 ERA on the road this season
Mariners: Left-hander Vidal Nuno will make his fourth start as a Mariner after moving over from the bullpen. Nuno took a no-decision in his last start after giving up four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. He is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts with the Mariners.