Instant Rationalization – Sale saves the series and the bullpen

Instant Rationalization – Sale saves the series and the bullpen
Chris Sale the Savior. (José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / June 3, 2012)

Chris Sale could not have picked a better game to throw a complete game.  The White Sox used nine, yes nine pitchers in yesterday’s 10-8 12-inning loss to the Mariners.  Safe to say, manager Robin Ventura was hoping Sale would go deep into the game and rest the taxed bullpen.  Sale delivered with a complete game, two-run effort to lead the Sox to a 4-2 victory and a series win over Seattle.

Sale allowed only seven base runners and struck out eight Mariners, delivering 119 pitches to the plate.  While the White Sox are (rightfully) concerned with Sale’s pitch count this season, there was never a doubt that the Sox needed Sale for all 119 pitches.

Sale’s only hiccup was a monstrous two-run homer to center by ex-White Sox Miguel Olivo that gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead in the second inning.  The Sox had 13 base runners through the first four innings, but only plated four of them.  Luckily, Sale was on the mound for the South Siders.

Key Performers

Chris Sale – 9 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K – Sale’s stellar effort can’t be lauded enough.  It completely saved the bullpen.

Eduardo Escobar – 2-2, 1 R, 2 BB - The little-used utility man was on base all four times today, scoring once.  He also played a good left field, after switching from third base when Kosuke Fukudome left with back stiffness.

Tyler Flowers – 2-4, 1 R – The backup catcher had two hits and called a great game behind the plate.

Miguel Olivo – 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – The ex-White Sox provided all of Seattle’s offense in one swing.

Turning Point

The Sox showed great patience in the second, third and fourth innings, drawing six base runners via bases on balls, hit by pitches and intentional walks.  The Sox pressed Seattle starter Kevin Millwood into a very high pitch count, which is why he only lasted four innings.

Not surprisingly, the Sox did all of their damage in those three innings, posting four runs on six hits and those six additional base runners.  Sure the Sox had plenty of opportunities to bust the game open, but their patience against Millwood was a welcome sight.

Things Would Be Different If…

…ball four was called strike three on Brent Lillibridge in the bottom of the second.  Lillibridge took a very borderline ball four with the bases loaded and two outs to force in a run.  The computer simulation on television said the pitch nailed the outside corner, but home plate umpire Joe West gave the Sox a break (don’t tell Hawk Harrelson!).

On the other hand, the White Sox had plenty of chances to score more runs, including the bottom of the third, when the Sox failed to score Viciedo from third with nobody out.

Takeaway

The White Sox continued their amazing stretch of baseball, winning their 14th game in their last 16.  In fact, the last three White Sox losses have all been games started by Gavin Floyd (that’s another post for another day).  Chris Sale has developed the same bulldog mentality at Jake Peavy, and it seems as though both pitchers should make the All-Star team pending big blowups in the next month.

As much as people want to get all giddy over the White Sox offense, the Sox will live and die with their pitching.  The Sox have too many streaky hitters and players with low averages to be able to depend on a consistent offense.  It is more likely that the Sox can rest its fate more securely with a pitching staff led by two workhorses/bulldogs/(insert tough guy word here).

Overall record: 31-23, 2.5 games up on Cleveland

 

 

Filed under: Game Wraps

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