Sale, offense struggle in second straight loss

Sale, offense struggle in second straight loss

Sale, offense struggle in second straight loss
BALTIMORE -- Chris Sale stood in front of his locker and didn't offer any excuses. When talking about his performance Tuesday night, it wasn't hard to see the big left-hander's frustration.

Sale lasted only four innings, his shortest start of the season, as the Orioles rolled to a 6-0 victory over the White Sox before 12,841 at Camden Yards. Manager Robin Ventura was looking forward to a possible matchup with Detroit's Justin Verlander on Sunday and yanked Sale after those four innings as Baltimore already had taken a four-run lead.

"I just didn't have it tonight," Sale said. "Didn't bring it, didn't have it."

Sale gave up four runs on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Ventura said Sale had to work hard to throw strikes and get batters out -- plus, the White Sox (71-57) weren't doing much against Orioles starter Chris Tillman (7-2). The right-hander gave up only one hit in seven innings.

So why keep Sale in if they're going to need something big from him Sunday?

"He didn't look like he had it, and we weren't doing too much offensively," Ventura said. "He was throwing a lot of pitches. He just didn't have it, so we were getting him out of there."

The overall four-inning effort was even more puzzling considering how Sale (15-5) started. He struck out four in a row early, the final two of the first inning plus the first two in the second.

But the Orioles (71-57) loaded the bases on a two-out rally in the second thanks to a single and back-to-back walks to the bottom hitters in their order, Manny Machado and Robert Andino. Nick Markakis then lined a three-run double to right-center to give Baltimore a 3-0 lead.

Lew Ford added a solo homer in the third. Sale got through the fourth but gave up a two-out double to Andino. The Orioles were hitting the ball hard enough, and Ventura made his move.

The whole situation also clearly confused Sale. He was going on an extra day's rest and started well before everything faded quickly.

"It's almost like I hit a brick wall," Sale said. "That first couple innings, I was dialed in, throwing a lot of strikes. It just got away."

Sale's pitching was just one part of the problem. Tillman turned in such a strong effort that the White Sox could do nothing on offense. They got a runner to second in the fourth and fifth innings and never again. Chicago never even had anyone reach third base.

Tillman only gave up an infield single to Dayan Viciedo in the fifth. He struck out five and walked four as the White Sox bats remained silent all night.

"Physically, I felt good," Tillman said. "I was able to establish the fastball early on both sides of the plate. I think in the long run, it helped me out."

The White Sox also noticed the way Tillman moved the ball around.

"He was pitching on both sides of the plate," said outfielder Dewayne Wise, who went 0-for-4. "He got us out tonight. That's the main thing. He mixed up his pitches. You've got to tip your hat to him."

Philip Humber came on and pitched the final four innings and threw well, giving up two runs on five hits. The final run came on Adam Jones' 100th career homer, a solo shot in the seventh that made it 6-0.

The White Sox finished with two hits on the night. Adam Dunn's infield single in the ninth off Brian Matusz was their other hit.

The problems Sale experienced on this night will motivate the left-hander as he prepares to go against Verlander, who had his own problems Tuesday night against the Royals. He gave up eight runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Holding a two-game lead over the Tigers, the White Sox don't want to have too many shaky performances. That's what clearly bothered Sale.

"I didn't do anything to help our team win tonight," he said. "Got no one to blame but myself. That's as bad as it gets. That's not what we needed tonight."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.