In his first two starts of the 2014 season, White Sox ace Chris Sale was phenomenal. He efficiently worked late into the games while remaining in control all throughout. The same could not be said about his performance on Friday night, as the Cleveland Indians gave him trouble in what seemed to be an off night. Luckily, the new-and-improved White Sox offense was there to save the day.
Sale Struggled from the get-go, letting up a pair of walks in the first and a couple singles in the second. Sure, anybody can let some runners reach base, but Sale was doing so in an awfully un-Sale-like fashion. He didn’t have control of his pitches and was not in command of the game.
But even through his struggles, he was able to settle down and get to the fifth inning without letting the Tribe cross the plate. So even though he wasn’t really pitching like the ace that he is, he still looked like an ace in the sense that he managed to find a way to battle through more adversity than he normally faces on the mound.
His fifth inning was another rough one as the Tribe finally got to him. He let up four consecutive hits to lead off the frame, all hit very well, which plated three Cleveland runs. He did then find a way to record three straight outs to escape further damage despite having to go through the heart of the Indians’ order. The fact that he made an adjustment and got the outs so quickly and easily was one of those moments when you sit back and say, “Wow … this kid is the real deal.”
His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K’s
But the other storyline from this one was the White Sox’ offense, which continued to do what it’s done so well this year: produce runs.
When Sale let up the three runs in the fifth, it surrendered a 3-0 lead the Sox had picked up throughout the two innings prior. They got two of those runs in an inning that looked quite familiar: Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez singles, an Adam Eaton double and then a Conor Gillaspie RBI sac fly. Despite Jose Abreu getting most of the club’s publicity of late, all four of those guys continue to look great at the plate.
The Sox went on to score six more runs on the night in a 9-6 win. Gillaspie, hitting again in the three-hole, went 2-for-3 with 4 RBI and a walk. It’s the most runs he’s ever driven in in one ball game.
Seven of the nine White Sox starters had at least one base hit with four picking up multi-hit games and the other two starters, Abreu and Dayan Viciedo, reaching base on walks. Eaton and Adam Dunn each reached base four times going 2-f0r-3 with two walks.
After the game, Sale described Eaton as the most exciting player in the game. Eaton’s response was exactly as perfect as you’d expect …
Eaton’s response? “Oh, geez. Tell him to save it. Save it. Save it. No, he’s the most exciting player in baseball.”
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) April 12, 2014
So when this one was all said and done, despite the team’s best player not being on top of his game, it was still a very impressive and victorious effort. This team continues to be loads of fun to watch and, well … I can’t wait to discuss ’em again with you after Saturday’s game, win or lose.