Chris Sale is content to speak softly and carry a big fastball.
The ace left-hander stated his case to start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati with seven innings of one-run ball as the White Sox beat the Cubs, 5-1, Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Sale struck out 10, giving him double-digit strikeouts in 10 of his 17 starts this year. Over his last dozen games, Sale has a 1.76 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 92 innings.
But Sale declined to do any post-start politicking to attempt to influence American League All-Star manager Ned Yost’s decision.
“I do the same thing I always do,” Sale said. “Just shut up and do what I’m told.”
A White Sox pitcher hasn’t started an All-Star Game since Mark Buehrle did in 2005, two years after Esteban Loaiza started for the American League at U.S. Cellular Field.
[SHOP: Buy a White Sox All-Star Game hat]
Sale’s main competition to start the game likely will be from Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-4, 2.23 ERA), Detroit left-hander David Price (9-2, 2.38 ERA) and Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer (9-6, 2.74 ERA). Sale (8-4) doesn’t have a sparkling win-loss record, though that’s hardly his fault. On Saturday, the White Sox scored more than four runs for Sale for the first time since June 3.
He does have a 2.72 ERA and the most strikeouts (157) in the American League, though.
The 26-year-old Sale pitched in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 All-Star Games, with his 2013 appearance lasting two innings. Manager Robin Ventura, like his pitcher, didn’t try to publicly influence Yost’s decision but wouldn’t mind if Sale got the ball to start Tuesday night at Great American Ballpark.
[MORE: Saladino's first hit was 'about as cool as it gets']
“He’s done it in the past and I know he gets a big kick out of it,” Ventura said. “You want the best pitchers to pitch in that game. … I know he’s deserving of pitching at any point in that game.”
Sale, as usual, heaped credit on catcher Tyler Flowers for putting together a gameplan the pair successfully executed on Saturday. Flowers, who’s caught Sale’s last 43 starts, said Sale was a little bit too pumped up early on — he was throwing plenty of upper 90’s fastballs in the first few innings — but settled down against a patient Cubs lineup and only issued that one walk.
“A lot of teams go outside their typical gameplan when they face Sale or another top of the line starter,” Flowers said. “That’s on me to quickly recognize whatever it is they are trying to do and adjust the gameplan accordingly.”
Sale has drawn comparisons to Randy Johnson — Cubs manager Joe Maddon was the latest person to draw that parallel over the weekend — and tied a major league record set by Pedro Martinez this year. Both those pitchers will enter the Hall of Fame at the end of the month.
While Sale isn’t too concerned with personal accomplishments and isn’t into promoting himself, he nonetheless has an appreciation for his impending fourth consecutive All-Star Game appearance.
“I've always enjoyed it. It is an honor,” Sale said. “You don’t get these opportunities a lot, so I definitely want to soak it all in and take it in. My friends and family always have a good time out there. So I’m really looking forward to it.”