Sale just what White Sox needed to end skid

Club always confident in ace lefty, who is 9-0 after complete-game win

Sale just what White Sox needed to end skid

CHICAGO -- The seeds of Chris Sale's masterful 2-1 complete-game victory over the Astros on Thursday night, raising the southpaw's record to 9-0 in nine starts, actually took root in the home clubhouse late Wednesday.

"We are walking around in here and Fraz [Todd Frazier] goes, 'You pitching tomorrow?" and I say 'yeah,' and he says, 'All right we got that one,'" Sale said after his 107-pitch effort produced a second straight complete game. "Hearing that and coming in today and seeing the guys ...

"Everyone is up. What did we lose? Four in a row. So it's like you would have never known that walking in today or any other day for that matter."

That confidence on Thursday stems from everyone wearing a White Sox uniform understanding Sale's invincibility during this present run.

Sale joined Eddie Cicotte (12-0, 1.07 ERA) as the second pitcher in White Sox history to win his first nine-plus starts of a season. Sale has won 10 straight starts dating to Oct. 2, 2015, which is the seventh longest streak in franchise history (Elias/STATS). Sale is the first pitcher since the mound was lowered in 1969 to begin a season 9-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA, as his ERA sits at 1.58.

Thursday's effort, featuring four hits, no walks and nine strikeouts, stands as his third complete game of the season. Brandon Webb was the last Major League pitcher to win his first nine starts, doing so for the D-backs in 2008.

And with all of this history staring Sale in the face, he looks more at the team component from this series finale pushing the American League Central-leading White Sox to 25-16.

"I just try to go out and do my job every fifth day. That's all I'm trying to do," Sale said. "9-0 is cool, it is. I enjoy it. I enjoyed snapping the skid we were in even more so than that. It leaves us with a good taste in our mouth going into a new series against a division rival."

"For us, it was needed, for him to go out and do what he did tonight. But I think he would have done that regardless," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That's what great pitchers do, they can be stoppers. I want him pitching all the time, whether you're winning or losing. You like when he's going to the mound."

While Sale misses the defending World Series champion Royals this weekend, he goes for a 10th victory in 10 starts on Tuesday at home against Cleveland. The Indians sit 2 1/2 games and one in the loss column behind the White Sox, but as Frazier expressed on Wednesday night, the South Siders feel as if "they got it" whenever their ace is scheduled to pitch.

"Basically just get on the mound. That's all. Just get on the mound," a smiling Frazier said of Sale. "When we had one run, I was like, 'Ah, that's basically enough.' That's the feeling you got, and he got that kick-start going for us.

"Now it's time for the bats to come alive this weekend coming up with the Royals. It's going to be a fun series."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.