Sale can't tell friends from enemies

CHICAGO -– And for the encore on a brutal weekend, Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale was once again left empty-handed like a guy holding the check for a meal he never ate.

Sale did his best to help avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, giving up three runs on seven hits over eight innings. It’s just that Indians starter Justin Masterson was better, firing a six-hit shutout in a 4-0 Indians victory.

Sale is becoming used to tipping his cap to the opposing pitcher and not because he hasn’t pitched well. The left-hander posted a 3.19 ERA in six June starts and was 0-5 in the month. There were also his 53 strikeouts in 42 1/3 June innings.

If Sale wasn’t so team-oriented you could almost hear him asking for the rebuilding project to begin in earnest since it isn’t as if his more experienced teammates are giving him the support he needs to win games.

“It’s just another tough one,” Sale said. “Just got to keep your head up, keep plugging along, keep chugging and try to put this one behind us.”

No, personal statistics aren’t what is important, but Sale’s 5-7 record is still a blemish even if he didn’t have much to do with it. He could still make the All-Star team due to his 2.79 ERA this season, and probably should, but his entry into the contest would come with some explanation on how he got there.

Sale hasn’t complained about a lack of run support, and won’t start now, only lamenting the fact that the team lost again.

“It’s his makeup,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I think that’s one of the things that’s great about him, what he brings to the table, what kind of teammate he is. That doesn’t make it any easier, but it makes him a special pitcher.”

It was the third time this season that the offense failed to give Sale any runs of support. And it isn’t as if the offense is the only part of the White Sox’s game to blame. He didn’t give up an earned run over eight innings on June 14 at Houston but poor defense led to two unearned runs and another defeat.

His tough-luck run started after he missed a late-May start because of tendonitis in his left posterior shoulder.

“He’s pitching fine,” Ventura said. “It’s just one of those where they were efficient and when they got a hit, it seemed like it put them ahead. It’s tough luck, but you see the stretch he’s been on with the strikeouts and getting to eight innings. It’s tough luck. You run into a guy that kind of carves us up, it’s frustrating.”

Sale struck out 10 on Sunday and became the first pitcher in White Sox history to have at least eight games of 10 strikeouts or more in his first 44 starts.

It’s those types of accomplishments that will leave Sale as one of the few untouchables when the non-waiver trade deadline rolls around on July 31, even if general manager Rick Hahn won’t say that specifically.

“As a general philosophy, I don’t think we’re doing our job if we don’t listen to people’s ideas on every player within the organization that they want to talk about,” Hahn said before Sunday’s game. “That doesn’t mean that some players are extraordinarily difficult to acquire.”

If somebody wants to give the White Sox two Chris Sales for the one they already have then there might be a deal. But as it stands, the rail-thin lefty can go ahead and purchase some property in the area. He figures to be staying for a while.

“I’ll just keep plugging along,” Sale said. “I look at myself in the mirror every day, and I'm not worried about this or that. I’ve got to come ready to play every day. I want to win every day, and when my name’s called, go out there and do everything I can.”