Starting pitcher Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox has been voted American League Pitcher of the Month for May. This is Sale’s first career monthly pitching honor and it is the second consecutive award for a White Sox pitcher after Jake Peavy won for the month of April. It marks the first time that an A.L. club has won consecutive Pitcher of the Month awards to start a season since Pedro Martinez won in April, May and June of 1999 for the Boston Red Sox. It is also the first back-to-back wins for an A.L. Club since Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn of the Seattle Mariners won in June and July 2009, respectively.
Sale compiled a 4-1 record with a league-leading 1.71 ERA, nine walks and 35 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched over five starts (six appearances). Among qualifying pitchers, the 13th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft led the A.L. in ERA, tied for first in wins, was third in opponents batting average (.181) and was eighth in strikeouts. In his first start of the month on May 1st against the Cleveland Indians, the 23-year-old allowed one run on three hits, walked one and struck out three over 6.0 innings as the White Sox defeated the Tribe, 7-2, at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. In his first career start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 17th, Sale worked 5.1 innings, scattering five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in the 6-1 victory at Angel Stadium. With the win, the White Sox snapped a brief two-game losing skid and began a four-game winning streak, highlighted by a weekend-series sweep of the cross-town rival Chicago Cubs. In his next start on May 23rd against the Minnesota Twins at home, the Lakeland, Florida native tossed 7.0 shutout innings, allowing just a pair of singles with two walks and seven strikeouts to notch his fifth win of the season as the White Sox won, 6-0. It marked the second time in a week that Sale helped his team bounce back from a loss, this time with Chicago winning their next nine straight (including a victory on June 1st against the Seattle Mariners), and making them winners in 12 of their last 13 during the month of May to propel them to the top spot in the A.L. Central. On May 28th, Sale had one of the finest outings of his three-year career as the left-hander permitted one run on three hits, walked two and struck out a career-high 15 over 7.1 innings to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1, at Tropicana Field. It marked the most strikeouts for a White Sox pitcher since Jack Harshman fanned a franchise-record 16 hitters on July 25, 1954 against the Boston Red Sox.
Others receiving votes included Cleveland’s Chris Perez (10 SV, 11.1 IP, 1.59 ERA, 13 SO); Detroit’s Justin Verlander (3-2, 1 SHO, 44.0 IP, 2.66 ERA, 47 SO) and Max Scherzer (4-0, 35.2 IP, 4.04 ERA, 51 SO); Toronto’s Brandon Morrow (4-2, 2 SHO, 36.0 IP, 3.50 ERA, 41 K); Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney (9 SV, 14.2 IP, 1.23 ERA); and Minnesota’s Scott Diamond (3-1, 31.2 IP, 2.27 ERA, 4 BB, 21 K).
In recognition for his American League Pitcher of the Month Award, Chris Sale will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for his accomplishment.