After being stuck on 14 wins since July 2, Chris Sale finally picked up his 15th victory of the season on Saturday, tossing a gem as the White Sox cruised past the Oakland Athletics 6-2 in front of 21,178 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale pitched eight shutout innings and allowed only three hits and three walks on 120 pitches, tying his season-high. The “K-Zone” was in full effect too as the White Sox ace struck out eight batters.
Sale became the league’s first starting pitcher to reach 14 wins on the season but struggled to pick up No. 15.
"It was kind of getting over the hump for me," Sale said. "My last few times out I haven’t been as good as I’ve wanted to be or as good as I’ve needed to be."
"Coming in and getting this one after a loss, we’ll fight for this series tomorrow, so it was important."
Sale barely needed any run support to pick up the win but his offense supplied it anyway 24 hours after being shut out 9-0.
Sale is now two wins away from tying his single-season record (17) set in 2012.
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
In Saturday’s win, everything seemed to be clicking for the White Sox, even on offense, which scored at least one run in each of the first four innings.
Jose Abreu got his team on the board early in the first after hitting a solo homer to right field that clipped the glove of A’s outfielder Brett Eibner on its way out.
In the second, Carlos Sanchez and Tim Anderson hit back-to-back two-out RBI singles to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead.
Melky Cabrera (single) and Jason Coats (groundout) tacked on RBIs in the third, and Cabrera added another in the fourth with his second single of the night.
Sale admitted that adding those early runs helped alleviate a little bit of pressure.
"You see your guys fighting," Sale said. "I think it was the third inning, scored all with two outs. When stuff like that goes, you kinda feed off of that, and build momentum and try to execute some pitches."
The offense was quiet on both sides after that until the ninth inning when Nate Jones entered the game and allowed two runs – a solo homer to Danny Valencia and an RBI single by Eibner.
Jones recorded just one out before being relieved by David Robertson, who picked up the final two outs of the game for his 31st save of the season.
The White Sox are now 58-64 on the season and have 40 games left.
But even though the White Sox postseason hopes seem to be far out of reach, there's still a "no-quit" attitude in the clubhouse.
"Nobody in here has given up," Sale said. "We have too much pride in ourselves and what we do. When you look around this clubhouse, we have some pretty good guys, guys that compete.
"At the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. Anything that happens after that, you can live with it."