Chris Sale strikes out 14, but loses anyway

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White Sox starter struck out 14 Astros over eight innings tonight, but ended up a tough-luck loser as his team fell 2-1. Sale allowed the first run without allowing a hit (bookended by Alexei Ramirez errors) and the second on an infield single. The Astros managed just five hits (all singles) and a walk off Sale.

As usual, ESPN Stats & Info tweeted the relevant trivia:

Sale is the fifth pitcher since 2007 to strike out 14+ and lose, joining James Shields and Francisco Liriano last year, and teammates Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in 2011.

Despite the loss, the 24-year-old Sale lowered his ERA to 2.43, following up a breakout campaign last year in which he finished sixth in AL Cy Young balloting.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?