Tigers’ final series of 2015 begins in Chicago
This hasn’t been Chris Sale’s finest season, but the Chicago White Sox star left-hander has racked up what’s easily his highest strikeout total.
Sale can break his franchise’s single-season record in his final start Friday night (7 p.m. pregame, 8:10 first pitch on FOX Sports Detroit) against the Detroit Tigers.
Sale (12-11, 3.48 ERA) probably won’t avoid the highest ERA of his career, and he’s guaranteed to finish with at least four fewer wins than his career-high 17 in 2012. The four-time All-Star, though, has fanned 267 batters — 41 more than his previous best.
Sale is also on the verge of topping Ed Walsh’s franchise-best 269 set in 1908.
"When you start thinking about, for us and the White Sox, of how long that record has been around, it has been around a long time," manager Robin Ventura told MLB’s official website. "Any time you put him in the category with Ed Walsh, it’s pretty impressive."
Sale had eight strikeouts in his latest outing Sept. 24 against the New York Yankees, but also took a 3-2 defeat – his fourth in a row – despite a respectable effort. He yielded three runs in seven innings and has gotten a combined five runs of support in his losing streak.
Sale has fanned six batters in each of his two starts against Detroit but gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings in his latest matchup May 6. He avoided the loss when the White Sox rallied for a 7-6 home victory.
Chicago (74-85) enters this series having lost seven of nine, but Jose Abreu made history in a 6-4 defeat to Kansas City on Thursday. The White Sox slugger joined Albert Pujols as the only two players with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of their first two major league seasons.
"It is a big honor to see my name along with Albert," Abreu said through a translator. "He’s one of the greatest players in the history of baseball and now I have the opportunity to see my name next to his. It’s a big honor for me."
Abreu has gone 2 for 9 this season against the Tigers’ Alfredo Simon (13-11, 5.18), who is 0-2 with an 8.76 ERA in his last two starts. The right-hander gave up four runs in eight innings Saturday in a 6-2 loss to Minnesota.
Simon, a soon-to-be free agent, will likely make his last start with Detroit. He gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings in his latest against the White Sox on June 25 but avoided a loss when the Tigers forced extra innings in an 8-7 defeat.
Miguel Cabrera will seek to finish off his fourth AL batting title in five years this weekend but could sit out one or two games. Cabrera’s .334 average is 12 points ahead of second-place Xander Bogaerts, but that individual success has come during an underachieving season by Detroit (73-85).
"It’s hard when you’re losing games," he said. "It’s hard to focus on what you want and what the team wants, because if the team’s not doing good, you know you’re not going to do good."
Cabrera is hitting .220 in his last 11 games against the White Sox but is 2 for 3 this season versus Sale. He’s batting .242 (8 for 33) with two homers lifetime against the left-hander.