The White Sox and Orioles are playing a doubleheader today to make up for the games canceled last month due to the civil unrest in Baltimore. Game one was the Chris Sale show.
Sale pitched seven and two-thirds shutout innings, striking out 12 and allowing only four hits and no walks. It took him 120 pitches to get that far, but the O’s didn’t manage to touch him.
In support the Sox got two in the sixth thanks to a pair of doubles from Melky Cabrera and Adam Laroche. An insurance run was added in the ninth via a Tyler Flowers fielder’s choice.
Things got dicey for Chicago in the ninth as Chris Davis hit a two-run homer off of Zack Duke who had come in to close it out for Sale with two outs in the eighth. While that made it a ballgame it wasn’t enough as Jacob Petricka came in to get the final out to preserve the 3-2 White Sox win.
But today was all about Sale. Who, despite getting tattooed in a couple of late-April, early-May starts, has settled down nicely and is giving Chicago the ace-like performance they have come to expect.
The White Sox lost their fifth game in a row on Sunday, falling 13-3 to the Twins. They’re now 8-14 in last place in the AL Central, a far cry from where prognosticators thought they’d be after an offseason in which they added Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, David Robertson, and Zach Duke.
As a result of the failures of the White Sox, manager Robin Ventura has started to take some heat. First baseman Jose Abreu stuck up for his manager, though, urging people to blame the players, not the manager. Via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune:
“We cannot blame Robin for the situation of the team,” Abreu said through a team interpreter Sunday morning. “It’s our fault because we are the ones who are playing. We are the people who are in the field.
“If the people want someone to blame, it’s the players, not Robin. He’s doing what he can do, but the results aren’t there.”
Among lineup regulars, Abreu and Avisail Garcia are the only ones with an above-average adjusted OPS (a.k.a. OPS+) at 139 and 119, respectively. The starting rotation has been a disaster as the 5.40 collective ERA is third-worst in the American League. It’s tough to see a way in which Ventura could have managed his team, with those results, to a better record than 8-14.
Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had White Sox starter Jose Quintana’s number on Sunday afternoon. Cespedes stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the first inning and worked the count full before hammering a 92 MPH Quintana fastball over the fence in left field for a grand slam.
Cespedes made it two when he faced Quintana again in the third inning, this time with a runner on first base and two outs. Cespedes demolished a 90 MPH fastball so much that left fielder Melky Cabrera barely moved as he watched it sail over the bullpen.
Once Quintana was out of the game, the White Sox were able to handle Cespedes. Reliever Matt Albers got him to line out to center in the fifth and Kyle Drabek struck him out in the seventh. The Tigers still cruised to a 9-1 win.
Cespedes, acquired from the Red Sox during the winter, is batting .300/.314/.600 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 51 plate appearances.