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.