White Sox get opportunistic in win behind Sale

White Sox get opportunistic in win behind Sale

White Sox get opportunistic in win behind Sale
ANAHEIM -- The 5 1/3 sharp innings Chris Sale pitched in Thursday afternoon's 6-1 White Sox victory offered a good barometer of the 23-year-old's baseball talents.

His postgame reaction offered an equally telling barometer, only this one measured the mental side of the young lefty's game.

Sale confused Angels hitters for five innings Thursday, but he seemed to lose life on his fastball as he approached the 100-pitch mark in the sixth inning. To him, despite the stat line of one run on five hits and seven strikeouts, that wasn't acceptable.

"The name of the game is keeping your team in the game, and going out and pitching some good innings," Sale said. "I felt like I did that today, but at the same time, you've got to get a little bit further than that."

On the same day Sale allowed three or fewer runs for the seventh straight start, it became clear he was his own toughest critic.

"The most important thing is that we got the win," Sale continued. "But I know my stuff, I've got to be better than that next time."

Sale's effort was aided by the Anaheim sun, as his offense staked him to an early four-run lead thanks to a pair of miscues by the Angels defense.

The White Sox took the lead in the third and broke through in a somewhat bizarre fourth inning. Angels right fielder Mike Trout dropped a routine fly ball off the bat of Dayan Viciedo, losing it in the sun as the ball bounced off the side of his glove.

It sparked a rally, and the White Sox loaded the bases with two outs for Adam Dunn, who promptly brought home two runs with a sharp single to center. Then, the bright skies struck again on Paul Konerko's lazy popup to second, which turned into an RBI single when Howie Kendrick lost it in the sun.

"We made some mistakes that allowed for them to take the game," Kendrick said. "I think me missing that fly ball they got another run, we dropped some balls, and their guys swung the bats, too."

The three-run fourth gave Sale a 4-0 lead, which he carried into the sixth inning. That's when he served up a 3-1 fastball that Angels first baseman Albert Pujols crushed for his second homer in as many games.

Mark Trumbo followed with a double, prompting manager Robin Ventura to hand the ball to righty reliever Nate Jones, who stranded Trumbo at second.

"In that sixth inning, [Sale] was getting some balls in the middle," Ventura said. "But we've got some guys that were fresh [in the bullpen] and we were able to go to them."

Overall, Ventura was thoroughly impressed with Sale's performance.

"Any pitcher that pitches like that makes it easy on a manager," Ventura said. "You score some runs, and it's nice."

Last week, Sale lobbied his way back into the White Sox starting rotation, a personal victory for a youngster with an intense desire to start.

Thursday marked Sale's second start since he was named the team's closer, then regained his starting job after a meeting with general manager Ken Williams.

Sale's defense backed him up, too, most notably Gordon Beckham, who made a catch while running into the wall in foul territory to hold runners at first and third in the fifth.

"When you have one of the best defenses in the league, you've got use them," Sale said. "You've got to let them play. When you do that, you win ballgames."

Viciedo continued his recent tear, adding to the Sox lead with an eighth-inning home run that stayed fair down the left-field line. Viciedo, who entered the game with three straight multihit games, only had one on Thursday, but it was his third homer in four contests.

Unfortunately for Viciedo, he likely gets the weekend off -- or at least out of the starting lineup, as Interleague Play will force Dunn out of the designated-hitter spot and into left.

"I'm just going to continue to do my thing, and I'm good," Viciedo said, speaking through a translator. "It's one of those where when my opportunity comes, I know what I need to do."

Beckham was robbed of a two-run blast three batters later, when Angels outfielder Vernon Wells climbed the left-field fence to snare a home run. But by then, the result wasn't much in doubt.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.