CHICAGO – It’s rare that Chris Sale has a bad outing, but Friday night was one of those times.
The Chicago White Sox left-hander gave up five runs (four earned), all in the third inning, but still managed to last six innings, striking out seven and walking one. Despite the bumpy stretch, Sale emerged with a solid stat line, and his offense came through for him as the Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 10-8.
“Just how we drew it up,” Sale said with a smile. “It was a little bit of everybody. Everybody in the lineup got a hit today, which is awesome. Scoring runs early, scoring runs late and in between. This team never quit fighting, especially when I put us in a pretty good hole right there. We never quit battling and put some good at-bats together and some runs on the board and it’s always nice to see.”
The White Sox came back from two separate deficits, and seven players had multihit games, including Jose Abreu, who went 3-for-3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. The rookie MVP candidate has reached in his past 10 plate appearances and has hit safely in 21 consecutive games and 39 of his past 40.
“Hit it hard and you expect something to happen because he’s in a zone right now,” manager Robin Ventura said of Abreu. “Anything you throw up there I think he’s going to hit hard. It’s unfair that you feel that way of a guy going up there, and if he doesn’t get a hit you feel like it’s a bit unlucky. He’s as hot as anybody in the league.”
Abreu and Sale -- who despite a rough outing is still in the hunt for a Cy Young with a 2.09 ERA, 129 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 116 innings pitched -- are the two clear stars of these White Sox. However, it’s the never-quit attitude of the team that continues to impress.
Before the game, pitching coach Don Cooper -- who missed the previous 11 games because of vertigo -- mentioned how he could see the team’s fight when watching games from home. Ventura had similar feelings after another hard-fought victory gave his team six wins in their past eight contests.
“They’ve been fighting like this for a while,” Ventura said. “I think offensively just grinding out at-bats and being able to put it together. I think even if you get down they’re still feeling like they have a shot, and I think as soon as a guy gets on they feel like stuff’s going to happen. That’s the good stuff. It becomes a bit contagious and guys that have scuffled for a while ... this is fun to actually be able to do it.”
Though Chicago still sits two games below .500 and 5½ games out of the final wild-card spot with five teams ahead of them, no one in the clubhouse seems to be losing faith in their ability to make a run.
“I don’t have the prescience to tell you where this season is going to take us,” Sale said. “But as long as we come in every day and we work hard and play like we played tonight and string some stuff together, I don’t see why we couldn’t be there with anybody else.”