A few years ago I had an opportunity to attend a pre-game batting practice with the White Sox, where I was able to attain a series of autographs from various members of the team including Mr. Chris Sale.
There were two autographs that I really wanted that day, Gordon Beckham and Sale’s because I believe that both will have great professional careers. For Beckham it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but he finally seems to be maturing at the plate under the direction of Jeff Mantos, White Sox hitting coach, and his talks with Captain Paul Konerko about his approach at the plate.
For Sale, his ride has been a little bit of a rollercoaster this season with Sox management over reacting to some elbow pain causing an immediate reaction to make him a closer again in order to protect his arm. A few days later he was starting after a MRI revealed no structural damage and Sale having a heart-to-heart with Kenny Williams, White Sox GM.
According to Williams it was the talk with Sale that constituted the move back to the rotation, but I think the Sox realized that they were over reacting to something that was a non-issue. Can you blame them?
I thought the whole situation was handled poorly and I think it was a rookie mistake by manager, Robin Ventura, but wanting to protect Sale’s arm should be the first priority of the White Sox as it was in this case.
I’m sure the Sox’s reaction was partly fueled by how other top rated pitching talent has gone down to injury and never fully recovered. Stephen Strasburg has pitched very well this season, but has had limited outings as a precautionary measure. Also, living in Chicago you can’t help but remember Kerry Wood and Mark Prior’s problems.
That all seems like years ago for Sale, because since Elbow-Gate 2012 Sale has been more impressive than he was to start the season. His 15-strikeout performance of the first place Tampa Bay Rays yesterday is proof of that. Sale is at the top of the AL in most categories; ERA he ranks second to Justin Verlander, but has allowed fewer earned runs; he’s allowed the fewest homers with three; his strikeouts to walk ratio is a robust 9.52; his WHIP ranks in the top ten at 1.01 as does his .198 hitter’s against batting average.
Sale’s performance yesterday has definitely vaulted him ahead of Jake Peavy for early CY Young consideration, since Peavy has let two terrible innings hurt his chances in this barely two-month old season.
As for the Sox in general, well they are playing like a well-oiled machine between their hitting domination over the last two weeks, and their timely hitting yesterday to win an incredibly pitched game by Sale and his opponent Matt Moore.
The Sox did end up winning on a Adam Dunn’s 16th homer of the year that traveled an estimated 448 feet and hit off the back wall of Tropicana Gymnasium; what a dump of a field.
It’s ironic that the Sox won 2-1, because Konerko cautioned everyone after the Sox pounded the Indians on Sunday that they could not keep the scoring up and would have to be ready to win a close game. Check, cross that one off the list, and Konerko extended his hitting streak to 14 in his last at-bat.
The embattled Phil Humber takes the mound tonight looking to rebound from another terrible outing since the perfect game, and the Rays seem like the team to do it against. The Rays had a few no hitters thrown against them in their short-lived MLB existence, four since 2002 and two perfect games since 2009. Maybe Humber can bring decent enough stuff tonight to limit the Rays to very little, at least let’s hope he does.
The Sox are 9-1 in their last ten and have won 10 of 11 with their last loss coming when Gavin Floyd took the mound against the Twins a week ago. Let’s go White Sox!!!!