Sale stung by solo shots in quality outing

White Sox drop 3rd straight start with ace on mound

Sale stung by solo shots in quality outing

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale was not as sharp as he usually can be during a 3-2 White Sox loss against the Indians on Monday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.

Those words came from catcher Tyler Flowers, who has worked hand-and-hand with the White Sox ace to produce one of the more dynamic seasons on the mound in franchise history. Without Flowers' comments, it would be hard to tell Sale was slightly off the mark based on his numbers.

Sale pitched seven innings, marking the 17th time in 27 starts that he's lasted at least seven, and picked up his 20th quality start by allowing three runs. He raised his strikeout total to 247 with eight, leaving him just 22 behind Ed Walsh's single-season franchise record of 269 set in 1908.

But the three runs scored off of Sale came courtesy of solo homers: two by White Sox tormenter Ryan Raburn and one from Mike Aviles. Sale has only allowed more than two homers in a game three times over 112 career starts, with it happening twice against the Indians. Those homers and just three hits from the White Sox offense combined to bring an end to a modest four-game winning streak.

"Yeah, it stinks giving up homers. Usually solo shots don't hurt you, but when you give up damn near a handful of them, it's tough," said Sale, who threw 74 of his 108 pitches for strikes. "Today was my day to pick them up and I didn't. I need to be that guy to be able to pick up my team, because they've picked me up my last time out."

"He didn't really have his best stuff today," Flowers said. "Command was off and that's what kind of burned us a couple of times, with the second one to Raburn and the pitch to Aviles. Trying to go up and in and we left it pretty low, inner third. A couple of misses that ended up costing us."

Ventura on loss to Indians

In Sale's last start, he gave up four runs in the second inning to the Twins, but the White Sox offense rallied to get him a no-decision as Sale quickly found a groove. Against Boston the outing prior, he pitched scoreless baseball over seven innings but was outmatched by Rick Porcello.

Victories aren't guaranteed every time Sale takes the mound, despite him standing as one of the game's best starters and having some of the filthiest pure stuff in the game. But it's tough to lose three straight contests when Sale takes the mound.

The onus for Monday's loss will be placed by Sale on his shoulders. But even slightly off the mark, he's still better than most.

"Especially after coming out of Kansas City, we played a great series there," Sale said. "I sort of would have liked to have picked up my guys today."

"Him and I both know he wasn't really on today," Flowers said. "But to still give us what he did, giving us a chance to win that game, he's not feeling great, it says a lot about how good he actually is."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.