Robin Ventura spoke before Sunday’s game about how Chris Sale has matured. When the negative emotions come up, Ventura said Sale can channel those feelings better than when he first broke into the big leagues.
That could be even more important for Sale and the White Sox as they play out the string of a lost season, a march that continued with a dreary 7-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
“No sense in coming in and going all crazy. It’s just, it’s a better way to be. Good, bad or indifferent, you want to be the same all the time,” Sale said. “The key is working hard and staying focused and come back next time with a little more.”
Sale said that hasn’t become harder as the Sox have fallen away from the pack chasing the final American League wild card. Certainly the Sox would like to be part of the race, but that hasn’t changed how Sale does his business even as his team finishes a highly disappointing year.
“No, you come to the park every day to win. We are competitors. It doesn’t matter if we are down 10 runs, up 10 runs, in or out of it,” Sale said. “We still have a job to do and that’s come in and compete. It’s all we can do at this point. We are just playing for pride. Just suck it up and play as hard as you can.”
On Sunday, that led to another rough outing against Minnesota.
Sale went three innings and allowed nine hits and six runs while striking out three. He finished 1-4 while allowing 27 earned runs in 33 innings against Minnesota this season, and matched the shortest start of his career.
Torii Hunter capped a four-run first with a three-run homer and added an RBI single in the third to keep Sale winless since Aug. 21.
“This year they’ve been pretty good against him. I don’t know if they meld well,” Ventura said. “A lot of them are the same guys that have been there in the past. They must be seeing him well in some way.”
Why? The Sox don’t seem to know.
“We’ve been looking at some video and stuff and we’ll continue to, but I don’t know,” Tyler Flowers said. “I feel like he made some really good pitches that got hit hard today. We made mistakes in there, too, but I don’t know. A little out of the ordinary.
“Nobody else seems to be able to do it against him, so let’s figure it out.”
One possibility is that Sale is tipping pitches – Flowers said it “kind of feels that way” but wasn’t sure – or maybe it’s something different.
Either way, it’s yet another mystery in a season that’s produced plenty of unanswered questions heading into the offseason.
“There’s no question they’ve been tough on me all year,” said Sale, who reached 250 strikeouts. “Just figure it out and try to fight my way through it and luckily we are not facing them anymore this year.”