Chris Sale hasn’t quite been himself the past two starts.
One game after he yielded a career-high nine runs, Sale tied his career mark with five walks. Without his customary command, Sale got hit hard by the Detroit Tigers but his teammates made it moot with an eighth-inning rally and a 7-6 White Sox victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale, whose ERA has risen from 2.37 to 5.93 the past two starts, allowed five earned runs and seven hits while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings.
“It was just one of those days,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “He just didn’t have a good feel, good rhythm, tempo, those kinds of things. It kind of seemed to be like that, he missed a lot of spots.”
While in Minneapolis last week, pitching coach Don Cooper said the left-hander’s slider may be behind because Sale missed several weeks of spring training with a fractured bone in his right foot. On Tuesday afternoon, Sale said his wipeout slider “is always” behind his other pitchers.
Sale threw 14 sliders Wednesday, 11 for strikes. But the pitch that hurt him most was the changeup.
After he walked Miguel Cabrera in the third inning, Sale left a 0-2 changeup over the plate to Victor Martinez, who hit a two-run homer to put Detroit ahead by two. Cabrera singled in a run to put the Tigers ahead 4-3 two innings later when Sale left another two-strike changeup in the zone.
“He’s usually pretty money going in on righties and he made a few mistakes there,” Flowers said. “Arm-side is a little bit tougher for him and we missed a lot arm-side when we were trying to go out there. I just think it’s an off day for him. It’s not a very Chris Sale line at the end of the day, but he’s still competed and gave us a chance. That’s a tough lineup and to not feel great against that lineup makes it even more challenging. Honestly, all in all, for not feeling good and not having good command or his best stuff, it’s not really too terrible a job. He gave us a chance.”
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Sale threw strikes on only 66 of 109 pitches. He’s expected to begin serving a five-game suspension on Thursday and make his next start in Milwaukee next Tuesday.
“You’re going to have good ones, you’re going to have bad ones,” Sale said. “You’re going to have a few good ones in a row, you’re going to have a few bad ones in a row. I think the most important thing is just staying true to yourself and grinding it out.”