BOSTON – Outside the White Sox clubhouse white flags have been raised, cries for rebuilding voiced and the inevitable “trade Chris Sale to restock the roster” discussions revived.
While none of that has been done or seriously considered, at least not yet anyway, inside the clubhouse the Sox are keeping their heads down and ears closed to the “noise” as they grind away at what has become a difficult task of stringing together victories.
It’s been a rough six weeks, with 26 losses in 38 games and defeats coming in all shapes, sizes and levels of pain. Thanks in large part to Sale, the Sox won 3-1 for their second win in a row and are in position to win three straight for the first time since they won four in a row on May 6-9 against the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers. Jose Quintana faces Eduardo Rodriguez Wednesday night with a chance to bring the Sox back to .500.
“More than anything, the outside forces and the input from the exterior, and it’s there for a reason – people want to read about it and contribute their opinions – those are things we have to stay clear of as much as possible,’’ bench coach Rick Renteria said, “and stay focused on what’s going on in here.’’
Bouncing back from a crunching three-game weekend sweep to the red-hot Indians in Cleveland, the Sox beat the Red Sox 3-1 in 10 innings Monday. Then, Sale received “a jolt” from Tim Anderson’s first home run on the first pitch and later Todd Frazier’s 20th of the season in the fourth against Clay Buchholz.
Sale (12-2, 2.83 ERA) became the major leagues’ first 12-game winner by pitching seven innings, allowing one run and matched his career high with nine strikeouts. He gave up four hits and walked one.
Season over? Rebuild? Trade “the franchise?” Teams that struggle to win three in a row will start people talking as such, but Sale isn’t hearing any of it.
“Well, we’re not worried about what other people are saying about us,” Sale said. “We know what we have in here, and we know what we can do with it. I don’t know how to say it – we’re not in a terrible position, we’re not in a great position. We’re in the middle of the season where we’re a hot streak away from being in first place.”
Nate Jones recorded two outs and gave up two hits in the eighth, and David Robertson, pitching for the third consecutive day, was called on for a four-out save.
“You play good defense, you pitch well, you get hits when you need it and you just play hard,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “Just play. Don’t think about things like that because it doesn’t matter.
“Chris was great. This was one of his better ones, especially against a lineup as good as this. He navigated very well tonight. Throwing strikes, great changeup when he needed it and he got a strikeout when he needed it, too.’’
Sale is feeling great physically, which bodes well for him and the Sox. He’s pitching like an All-Star starter.
“My arm was definitely loose and I felt really good out there,’’ he said. “I had good command. And confidence, too, Before I stepped on field TA gives us the lead. It gives you a jolt, a spark and eases the tension to go out and throw strikes.’’
For Anderson, the special moment was topped off when the ball was retrieved after carrying the Green Monster.
“It was a great feeling to get my first one out of the way,’’ Anderson said. “Very exciting moment.
The homer gave Anderson 13 hits in his first 11 career games. He is the fourth Sox since 1980 to record 12-plus hits in his first 10, the most recent Abreu with 12 in 2014.