Chris Sale nearly made White Sox history in a dominating victory.
Sale struck out a career-high 15, Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer and Chicago extended its winning streak to six games with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.
”A special day … it was awesome,” said Sale, who is from nearby Lakeland. ”It’s nice, especially growing up and being kind of a Tampa Bay Rays fan. My uncle brought me here to the first game. It was the day after my birthday.”
Sale (6-2) gave up one run, three hits and walked two in 7 1/3 innings while finishing one strikeout shy of the team record. Jack Harshman struck out 16 against Boston on July 25, 1954.
”I didn’t know what the record was,” Sale said. ”That’s something I’m not really worried about. I knew I had quite a few there late in the game, but it’s the same thing just like any other day. You go out there and you try not to focus on all the external stuff that might get in the way of you doing your job.”
Sale struck out his 15th batter, Jose Molina, with a runner on third and two outs in the seventh. He retired his final batter, Rich Thompson, on a grounder to lead off the eighth.
”You know what, that guy could have punched out a lot of teams 15 times,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ”His stuff was that good. The entire package, what he did, was good. A lot of awareness out there.”
The 15 strikeouts was the most ever by one pitcher at Tropicana Field.
”He’s special,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ”I think that’s what you’re seeing is him being able to kind of manage the game and go for a strikeout and get ahead and all of those things.”
After Jesse Crain got the final two outs in the eighth, Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his fifth save and complete a three-hitter.
Chicago took a 2-1 lead during the sixth when Gordon Beckham singled and scored on Dunn’s 16th homer. Dunn has gone deep 11 times in May.
”You get some guys on and he can do a lot of damage,” Ventura said. ”It was just one of those that he hits perfect, and he probably didn’t even feel it. He hit it that good.”
Matt Moore (1-5) allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings for Tampa Bay. The left-hander, who given up 19 runs over 19 2/3 innings in his previous four starts, struck out 10 and walked one.
”That’s two of the best young pitchers that have come through in a long time,” Dunn said. ”You had to kind of focus and not get caught up in what they were doing. Those two guys are something special, man. For sure.”
The White Sox had scored at least nine runs in each of their previous four games.
Chicago’s Paul Konerko, who had his average drop four point to .395, went 1 for 4. He flared an opposite-field single to right during the ninth that extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Ben Zobrist singled, stole second and scored to put the Rays up 1-0 on Jose Lobaton’s RBI single in the fourth. Lobaton was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game. He was out since April 13 due to right shoulder soreness.
Zobrist, playing in right field, took a hit away from A.J. Pierzynski in the second with a diving catch.
Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton went 0 for 4, including three strikeouts against Sale, and had his 10-game winning streak end.
NOTES: White Sox GM Kenny Williams doesn’t think LHP John Danks, who is on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain, will need a minor league rehab start. Danks could rejoin the rotation around June 5. … Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria (partial tear left hamstring) increased his agility and running program, and continues taking batting practice and fielding grounders. … Williams said attendance could impact the White Sox at the trade deadline. ”If you can’t monetarily make something work, sometimes you have to do it with a greater cost to your talent,” Williams said. Chicago is averaging 20,663 this season at home. … To make room for Lobaton, Tampa Bay optioned C Chris Gimenez to Triple-A Durham.