The Chicago White Sox desperately needed a strong outing from one of their starters. Chris Sale provided it.
The 23-year-old left-hander pitched effectively into the sixth inning and the White Sox capitalized on some shoddy defense by the Los Angeles Angels for a 6-1 victory Thursday.
After a three-game stretch in which starters John Danks, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd gave up a combined 18 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings, Sale (4-2) restored order in his sixth major league start. He struck out seven and was working on a three-hit shutout in the sixth when he gave up a one-out homer to Albert Pujols and a double to Mark Trumbo and was replaced by Nate Jones.
”It was nice to see Chris have a good start,” Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said. ”He had that little thing where he got out of the rotation for a week and missed a turn, and I think there’s no question that it kind of blew his rhythm – because he didn’t have a good game last time. So it was nice to see him get it back, because he was on his way to having a great year.”
Sale joined lefty Steve Rosenberg (1989) as the only White Sox pitchers to give up three runs or less in each of their first six big league starts since divisional play began in 1969.
”I guess that’s a cool stat, but it’s obviously something I don’t pay attention to at all,” Sale said. ”I have a job to do, and that’s to go out and keep my team in the game, keep the other team to fewer runs on the board than the other starter and pitch deep into the game. That’s my main focus.”
A first-round draft pick in 2010, Sale was used exclusively in relief by the White Sox during his two previous seasons in the big leagues. Two of those relief outings were against the Angels, who got to see him again during spring training.
”He did a good job today and was pretty sharp, for the most part,” Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. ”He got outs and put up zeros, and that’s what you want your starter to do. He’s got a good two-seam fastball, he threw strikes and was able to get guys out with his breaking ball.”
C.J. Wilson (4-4) threw 88 pitches in 3 2/3 innings and tied a career high with six walks. The left-hander was charged with four runs (one earned) and four hits. He also walked six Marlins batters on June 15, 2010, at Miami while pitching for the Texas Rangers.
”I had a little stomach virus today, so I couldn’t really get anything going,” Wilson said. ”It was just weird. I almost passed out after the first inning. I didn’t set a good tone, and that’s pretty much my fault. I put the defense to sleep out there — and the bats, too, I guess.”
A.J. Pierzynski delivered a two-out RBI single in the third to open the scoring, after flying out with the bases loaded to end the White Sox first. He was 3 for 5 with two RBI singles, and is 29 for 70 in his last 19 games at Angel Stadium.
Chicago tacked on three unearned runs in the fourth with the help of two balls that should have been caught and weren’t. Angels center fielder Mike Trout started in right for the first time this season due to the absence of nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter because of his son’s arrest in Texas, and dropped a routine flyball by Dyan Viciedo with one out.
Viciedo ended up at second base on the error, and Wilson walked the next two batters before Adam Dunn chased the left-hander with a two-run single. David Carpenter came in and Konerko hit a popup to short right field, but the ball fell in front of Kendrick after he called off Trout. It was scored as an RBI single.
”It was right in the sun,” Kendrick said. ”I made a mistake and had my sunglasses on my hat, and I should have had them on there. But I still have to make that play, regardless. We can’t allow that to happen. We’ve got to make plays and give the team the best opportunity to win. Today we missed some flyballs, and we’ve got to work on that.”
In the fifth, Alexei Ramirez’s blooper fell between Trout and Kendrick for a hit after a leadoff single by Pierzynski. Viciedo followed with a flyball to short center, where Peter Bourjos converged with Trout and Kendrick before making the catch — resulting in a derisive cheer from the crowd of 30,786. Carpenter then fielded Brent Morel’s comebacker and started a double play.
Viciedo led off the eighth with his sixth homer and third in a four-game span. Three batters later, three-time Gold Glove winner Vernon Wells scaled the fence in front of the left field bullpen and pulled back Gordon Beckham’s bid for a two-run homer.
NOTES: Trumbo had a career-high four hits. … Dunn struck out his first two times up, increasing his major league-worst total to 59, and has at least one in 38 of his first 39 games. He led the majors in strikeouts three consecutive seasons while with Cincinnati (2004-06). … The Angels had gone 54 consecutive innings without an error before Trout’s first miscue of the season in 17 starts in the outfield.