Johnson struck out 793 over his first four years as a starter, covering 125 starts. He also walked 512. Sale has five or six more starts left in his fourth season as a starter, and he already has amassed 864 strikeouts against just 171 walks in 111 starts. Those are the sorts of comparisons that cause Sale to smile and quickly deflect praise.
It's not that he minds being compared to the Big Unit, one of his favorite players. But now is not the time in his mind for individual discussions.
"He's in the Hall of Fame, so that's as high as you can get in this game. That's why he's the best," said Sale of Johnson after Tuesday's no-decision. "And I'm definitely appreciative of it, understand what it is and what it means.
"At the same time, we're right in the thick of it right now and we're in one of the hardest months of the year. You know me, I'm going to come in every day and do my job. If it's good, it's good. If it's bad, it's bad. You just do everything you can when you get the ball."
Everything for Sale entails 239 strikeouts against 36 walks over 177 2/3 innings. He's on pace to record a franchise-record 288 strikeouts, which would be the most in the Majors since 2002, when Johnson had 334 for Arizona. He sits three ahead of Clayton Kershaw for the Major League lead and needs only 31 to break Ed Walsh's White Sox mark of 269 from 1908.
Then, there's the specter of 300 strikeouts, which would require Sale to average a little more than 10 per start over his next six. About the only thing missing from his impressive 2015 resume is figuring out how to handle the Twins.
Four runs allowed Tuesday, all in the second inning, mean 24 of the 68 runs that have been scored against Sale this season have been by the Twins. He has allowed 19 earned runs over five starts against the Twins, after giving up 17 earned runs to Minnesota over 16 previous starts. And his 19 runs allowed at Target Field are the most by an opposing pitcher in a single season in Target Field history.
Yes, the Twins are Sale's equivalent of kryptonite to Superman. But even when he's not at his best, Sale gives the White Sox a chance to win.
"Even the way it started out there, some guys would end up going the other way," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "I thought he battled through."
"You just want to give your team a chance to win," Sale Said. "You don't want to let it snowball and make things worse."