Lefty allows six unearned runs, but fans nine, in loss to Indians
By August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- A pitcher cannot control whether his defense makes an error behind him. What a pitcher can control, though, is what happens after the error.
That's how Chris Sale ended up allowing six unearned runs in Friday's 12-1 loss in Cleveland. A Carlos Sanchez error with one out in the third inning was amplified by a boom off the bat of Carlos Santana with two outs for a grand slam that put the White Sox in an early 6-0 hole.
"I'm having a hard time this year staying away from the big inning it seems like," Sale said. "But with all that stuff involved, it is what it is. I've got to be the guy to go out there and cut that off and pick my guys up."
After the frame, in which Sale faced 10 batters and threw 28 pitches, he retired the next six batters he faced. Before the frame, he had faced the minimum through two.
When it was all said and done, Sale's line resembled a typically strong outing -- seven innings, one earned run, nine strikeouts and three walks. Despite the lopsided defeat, the lefty actually lowered his ERA from 3.55 to 3.47.
There was calm surrounding the storm. But the storm still blew through and did its damage.
"Every time he goes out there, we realize, and he realizes, expectations are high," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He has that for himself as well. Any time he doesn't go out there and get close to a no-hitter, people are disappointed. But he's human. I thought the care factor of, once he got through that inning and going back out there and gutting it out for a few more innings, that's what good pitchers do and that's what the team guys do. And he did that."
Sale's nine strikeouts bring his season total up to 259, leaving him in sole possession of second place in single-season franchise history. With Sale likely to make at least three more starts before season's end, it seems inevitable that he'll break Ed Walsh's team record of 269, set in 1908.
"I feel fine," Sale said. "I think the main goal for me is finishing strong. I say that all the time. You start out the season with that goal in mind and it's still the goal -- finishing strong no matter where we are or what's going on. You've got to keep your chin up and play hard, play the way you're supposed to play."
August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.