Chris Sale wasn’t even through his first inning of work when his anger began to get the best of him.
After a very Sale-like dismissal of the first two Minnesota Twins hitters he faced Saturday night, the White Sox ace surrendered a single. Then he gave up a double. He then proceeded to hit the next batter he faced before yielding a bases-loaded walk.
Sale demonstratively walked off the mound, visibly upset at the trouble he had pitched himself into. He then hit yet another batter, which only intensified Sale’s already foul mood.
At that point, Sale took the baseball and promptly pounded it onto the side of his head.
For a pitcher who is intent on throwing less angry pitches, it didn’t take long for the emotionally-charged Sale to re-emerge.
“When I get mad I feel the need to hurt myself –I don’t know why,” Sale said after the White Sox 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. “That’s something I’ve got to get over. That’s the immaturity part coming out and that’s when the overthrowing happens and that’s when I dug myself a hole.
“I’ve just got to quit being an idiot out there.”
Turns out, a bit of self-directed annoyance proved to be all Sale needed to become the Majors’ first seven-game winner by striking out nine – eight of which came after his furious start.
Yet, even when Sale wasn’t at the top of his game, his teammates had his back, piling up seven runs and 13 hits. Third baseman Todd Frazier, who started the night 0-for-May, ended the slump with a home run and an RBI double as the Sox offense quickly erased the memory of a first inning Sale would rather just forget.
And just like that, the Sox –who continue to boast the American League’s best record – kept rolling on a night when Sale – in his own words – was just along for the ride.
His frustrating first aside, Sale quickly righted the ship against the hapless Twins. He finished the night by only allowing only the two first-inning runs while limiting the Twins to three hits over seven innings. Even after the labor-intensive first inning when Sale threw 36 pitches and dug himself andthe Sox into an early hole, he managed to remain perfect following a start that was anything but against a team that has historically been a tough out for Sale.
“I think he was over-throwing it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “But I think he finally got into a groove and we were able to score some runs for him. But I think that’s the first time that’s the first time I’ve seen him overthrow like that.”
Of the season-high 120 pitches he threw in his latest victory, 74 went for strikes, giving up only the lone walk he gave up in his first inning of work.
Sale’s workload got lighter the longer he threw before turning the game over relieversMatt Albers and Zach Duke. The two relievers closed out the Sox’ 21stwin of the year even on a night when Sale demonstrated that even when he’s not at his best, he is better that most.
His teammates just made sure they had his back just in case.
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