Preview: Twins vs. White Sox
Though Chris Sale has a chance to further etch his name in baseball history, it won’t mean much to him if the Chicago White Sox can’t build on their latest victory.
The left-hander looks to continue his impressive run during Wednesday’s decisive road finale against the Minnesota Twins.
After striking out 12 but yielding a two-run homer in a 2-1 loss at Tampa Bay on June 14, Sale (6-3, 2.74 ERA) retired the first 17 batters, equaled a season high with 14 strikeouts and allowed two hits over eight innings before David Robertson blew a 1-0 lead in Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Texas.
That second straight hard-luck effort overshadowed another gem by Sale, who can become the first pitcher since 1914 to fan at least 12 in six straight games after joining Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson as the only ones to do it five consecutive times.
"It’s an honor to get my name mentioned with them, but it’s something more for (the media) and friends and family," said Sale, who is 3-1 with an 0.72 ERA in his last five starts and can become the first player since Johnson in 2001 to strike out at least 10 in seven consecutive outings.
"I’m here for one reason and that’s winning ballgames," he said. "All the other stuff is more of a distraction than anything, really."
Sale also won’t lament the lack of run support over the last two outings or call out his teammates while sitting last in the AL Central at 31-39.
"The way it’s going, it’s easy to sit there and point fingers, but that’s his maturity level," manager Robin Ventura told MLB’s official website about Sale, who has a club-record 25 double-digit strikeout games. "His leadership qualities are coming out. This is what is taking shape. This is the guy that he has become. It’s impressive."
Sale’s been solid while going 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA versus Minnesota (38-33) at home this season. However, he allowed a season-high nine runs over three innings in his shortest outing of 2015, a 12-2 defeat at Target Field on April 30.
Chicago snapped a seven-game road slide with Tuesday’s 6-2 victory that also was its third in four contests overall and first in six at Minnesota this season. Jose Abreu had four hits for the White Sox, who scored more than three runs for the first time in 10 games and had more than two hits with runners in scoring position (5 for 16) for the first time in 19.
"We got a chance to win the series and that’s what we’ll focus on," infielder Gordon Beckham said.
Abreu is batting .393 in his last 14 games and .339 in 15 career contests at Target Field.
He’s 7 for 17 (.412) with three doubles versus Phil Hughes (5-6, 4.47), who looks to build on his strongest outing of the season after he allowed a solo homer and one other hit in eight innings of a 7-2 win Friday over the Chicago Cubs.
"It’s definitely the best of the year so far," Hughes said. "So far this year, it’s been a bit disappointing for me."
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against the White Sox this season that both came on the road.
Brian Dozier and Torii Hunter are each 3 for 10 with a double and a home run versus Sale this season, and Joe Mauer is 3 for 6 with a double.
Hunter is batting .341 (15 or 44) versus Chicago in 2015.