CHICAGO -- While teams such as the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers get all the attention in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles, now 19 games over .500 and sitting with a comfortable 7½-game lead in the AL East, go overlooked.
“They’re one of the best in the league and they play in a pretty tough division, too,” Sale said after his team fell 8-2 to the Orioles on Monday night. “They’re pretty much the whole package. They’re just a well-put-together team and you’ve got to be sharp and on your A-game when they come into town and obviously I wasn’t tonight. Just wasn’t able to hold it together.”
Despite not having his "A-game," Sale still managed to put forth a quality start, tossing six innings and allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out eight and walking two. Sale actually saw his career ERA drop to 5.14 in 21⅓ innings against Baltimore.
“This is a team that no question I’ve struggled against from the first pitch I ever threw,” Sale said. “It’s something that’s just frustrating. You have a plan you want to execute. Sometimes teams come in and they do what they did tonight against me. Obviously you want to extricate this from our minds and come in fresh and ready to go.”
After the left-hander walked Caleb Joseph to put runners at the corners with two down in the sixth, it appeared that manager Robin Ventura was going to remove Sale, who was at 115 pitches at the time. However, Sale remained in the game and struck out Jonathan Schoop on six pitches.
“I just made sure he wasn't trying to overthrow,” Ventura said of the mound visit. “I knew it was going to be his last guy, just making sure he felt good before he was going to go after the guy. I didn't want him overthrowing and overextending himself.”
Despite the rough night, Sale still had a moment of levity in the postgame session, giving a slightly different version of Ventura’s trip to the hill.
“Very calm,” Sale said of his chat with Ventura. “I asked how his day was going and he commented on my shoes and he liked them. It went very well.”
Matt Lindstrom wasn’t nearly as upbeat. After the Sox cut the Orioles' lead to one in the seventh, Lindstrom came in with two men on and two out in the top of the eighth. Not only did Lindstrom allow both inherited runners to score, but he also gave up three runs of his own and failed to record an out. Since returning from the disabled list last week, Lindstrom has allowed six runs in his two-plus innings of work.
“It's a little frustrating right now,” Lindstrom said. “I can get guys strike one, strike two, it's just a matter of putting them away. That's been kind of elusive for me the last couple outings. That's been kind of a tough pill to swallow, especially since the game is so close right there.”