Chris Sale set an individual season-mark for strikeouts on Wednesday night and likely has seven more chances to increase his total.
With a fourth-inning whiff of Travis Shaw, Sale established a new personal mark for strikeouts, a figure he increased to 229 before the game ended. Sale, who had 29 strikeouts in his previous two starts, struck out seven over seven scoreless innings. He exited with the score tied but the Boston Red Sox eventually topped the White Sox 3-0.
“It’s cool,” Sale said. “But at the end of the day, there’s really only one stat that matters and that’s wins. We just have to keep fighting. It’s nothing in particular. We just have to keep fighting and keep our heads up. We are a good team and keep grinding.”
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Sale established his previous mark in 2013 when he struck out 226 in 214 1/3 innings. Sale has only pitched 171 1/3 innings so far this season, but entered Wednesday with a major league-best average 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Even though he operated without his best stuff, the four-time All-Star still managed seven strikeouts in a 119-pitch effort against Boston. Sale worked out of two tight jams and early before he retired 10 of the last 11 he faced.
“He can bob and weave with the best of them,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He wasn't in his strikeout form tonight, but they were going after stuff early. I thought they did a great job of attacking early. I wouldn't say he was throwing strikes early in the count, he was getting behing. That got him in some jams but he's got good enough stuff to get out of it.”