Chris Sale throws eight shutout innings, lowers ERA to 2.05

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: White Sox starter Chris Sale needs his own video game.

The lanky left-hander threw eight innings of shutout ball on Saturday afternoon against the Astros, striking out seven and walking none as the Pale Hose rolled to a 10-1 victory. He now has a 0.92 WHIP, 76/18 K/BB ratio and an American League-best 2.05 ERA through 74 2/3 frames this season.

Adam Dunn hit a grand slam in the blowout win and Gordon Beckham contributed three runs batted in.

Sale has surrendered just three earned runs, fanned 36 batters and issued only six free passes in his last 31 1/3 innings of work. It’s crazy to think the White Sox had him in the bullpen at one point, and his success as a starter should be a message for the Reds and their own lanky southpaw (Aroldis Chapman).

For postgame reaction, including videos, check out WhiteSoxTalk at CSNChicago.com.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.