White Sox

White Sox poor season hasn't slowed down Chris Sale


White Sox poor season hasn't slowed down Chris Sale

The 2015 White Sox roster is loaded with question marks at several positions and key players have underperformed at others. The club is headed in the wrong direction again, on pace for 92 losses.

Chris Sale falls into none of those categories.

While little has gone according to plan for the 2015 White Sox, who reside in last place in the American League Central despite a massive offseason overhaul, Sale has been everything the club had hoped he’d be and more.

[MORE: Crain and Jones continue to make progress in injury rehab]

On pace for his fourth straight All-Star appearance and perhaps his first start in the Midsummer Classic, Sale will attempt Tuesday to tie Pedro Martinez’s major league record for most consecutive starts (eight) with at least 10 strikeouts.

“It’s crazy,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The people he’s getting compared to are royalty in our game and the kind of stuff nobody ever thinks is going to get matched again. He’s able to go out and have that stretch that he’s having, it’s impressive.”

It’s even more impressive given all that has occurred around him this season. Despite playing in front of a defense that has produced a majors-low minus-54 Defensive Runs Saved and an offense that has scored 3.47 runs per game and runs into too many outs, Sale has largely been unaffected.

He heads into Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series at the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 with a 3.02 ERA and an average of 12.18 strikeouts per nine innings.

Sale -- whose record-tying streak of consecutive starts with at least 12 strikeouts ended at five Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins -- has struck out 85 batters over his last seven starts.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Currently tied with Martinez, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, Sale would become only the second pitcher to ever post 10 strikeouts in eight straight starts if he accomplishes the feat Tuesday. Martinez had streaks of seven and eight consecutive starts with at least 10 strikeouts in 1999 for the Boston Red Sox.

As pitching coach Don Cooper notes, Sale’s dominance is nothing new. He has averaged at least nine strikeouts per nine innings in each of his four as a starting pitcher. But Sale’s strikeouts increased to 10.8 per nine in 2014 when he was 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA for an 89-loss team and he’s improved his whiff rate again this season. Cooper believes it’s how Sale has handled himself on the mound in spite of things out of his control that has benefitted him most.

“A big thing we’re seeing over the years is more maturity, more keeping his emotions and head in check,” Cooper said. “When the control tower is working he is really good because of the efficiency, his focus his commitment. When he gets flustered or angry -- sometimes somebody gets a hit and he gets pissed -- he wants to go to a level that I think loses that efficiency. He’s able now to control his emotions and control his starts and commitment to each pitch.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay: The Pierzynski dropped third strike game

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Distant Replay: The Pierzynski dropped third strike game

In a new series on the podcast, the whole crew gets together to re-watch and re-live one of our all-time favorite White Sox games. We begin with Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS when A.J. Pierzynski famously reached base on the dropped third strike in the 9th inning, opening the door for a pivotal White Sox victory over the Angels (1:50). You'll hear things we learned watching the broadcast again (10:30), if Twitter existed... (17:20), the White Sox player we miss the most (21:00), all the random stuff that happened in the game and on the broadcast (24:30), the Pierzynski dropped third strike (32:30), Chuck's post-game report unearthed for the pod (38:15), how Hawk Harrelson would have called the game (40:40) and much more.  

Listen here or in the embedded player below.