Making his first ever start in Florida, Lakeland native Chris Sale struck out 15 batters while limiting the Rays to one run and three hits in 7 1/3 innings in the White Sox’s 2-1 victory Monday.
An Adam Dunn homer, his 16th of the year, was responsible for both White Sox runs.
Sale, a first-round pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University in 2010, had family and friends in attendance for the game in St. Pete.
The 15 strikeouts matched the major league high for 2012 set by Max Scherzer against the Pirates on May 20.
The Rays kept the game close and got 10 strikeouts from their own starter, Matt Moore, in a losing cause. Today’s game was the first of the season to feature two starters with double-digit strikeouts. It happened twice last season. Arizona’s Ian Kennedy struck out 10 and Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee K’d 12 on April 25, 2011. San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum and Florida’s Javier Vazquez both fanned 10 on Aug. 13.
Sale is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA in four starts since the White Sox aborted his move to the bullpen and the closer’s role earlier this month. One still wonders if he’ll hold up physically, but the White Sox are certainly a whole lot better off right now with him starting and Addison Reed finishing up.
Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius had another fantastic night last night. He went 3-for-3, hitting a home run for the fourth game in a row, had an RBI single and reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances in New York’s 7-4 win over Minnesota.
For the year that gives Gregorius a line of .372/.470/.833, putting him atop the American League in average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. He also leads the league in total bases (65) and RBI (29). He leads all of baseball in fWAR at 2.2, edging out Mike Trout despite the fact that Trout has played in two more games. He’s second behind Trout in homers with nine.
After last night’s game he insisted that he is not a home run hitter:
“I do have a lot of home runs, but it’s not like I am going out there to try to hit them . . . I’m not a power guy like Judge and Stanton, who hit 50 to 60 and up. Those are the guys who actually hit home runs. One year, let’s say, I hit five — then you ask me where that part went . . . if they go out, they go out. I’m just mostly trying to barrel it up and get a good swing . . . I try to hit line drives and if you check most of my home runs they were line drives,” he said. “It’s not like I am going up to hit deep fly balls.”
Given that he hit 25 homers last year and 20 the year before, he’s being a bit modest, even if he’s not likely to keep up this torrid pace. That modesty is not stopping some people from getting a bit carried away, of course:
We’ll forgive Bob for the hyperbole. Didi has been fun to watch.