Whatever it was that fired when White Sox ace Chris Sale tore up those throwback uniforms Saturday has a lot to do with what makes him as good as he is.
Sale’s ridiculous and bizarre act, which forced the Sox to play without him and earned him a five-game suspension from the team, was the most ‘‘stupid and selfish’’ thing one National League scout has seen in 40 years of pro baseball.
That reaction to a story sports fans everywhere still are trying to wrap their heads around was shared by many, Sox fans included.
Sale, the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award and a five-time All-Star, told MLB.com on Monday that he wants to stay with the Sox but wants manager Robin Ventura to stick up for his players. Sale didn’t want to wear the throwbacks because he said they were uncomfortable and could have interfered with his mechanics, and he lost his cool when didn’t get his wish after taking the issue to Ventura.
That angry man inside Sale makes him pitch angry, and that only makes his excellent stuff seem better, some say.
‘‘What makes him so good is he has pinpoint control, and he has no qualms about hitting you right square in the back,’’ a veteran National League scout said. ‘‘He scares the daylights out of most of these guys.
‘‘It’s fun to watch that guy. He’s an angry guy. He pitches with prejudice. And I like that. I like players that scare other players.’’
On the opposite side of the spectrum is right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, mild-mannered and non-threatening but extremely effective of late. Gonzalez entered the game with a 2.77 ERA in his last four starts, then strung together six scoreless innings before giving up a two-run home run to Javy Baez in the seventh inning of a game the Sox would win 5-4 on Tyler Saladino’s walk-off single against Mike Montgomery that scored J.B. Shuck in the ninth, the Sox’ third walk-off victory in a row since Sale was sent home after his outburst Saturday.
Sale not taking the ball Saturday placed a burden on a Sox bullpen that was still running on fumes Monday – Nate Jones and closer David Robertson were unavailable – leaving Zach Duke, Matt Albers and Dan Jennings to relieve Gonzalez. Albers gave up three hits in the Cubs ninth and Jennings allowed the tying single to Anthony Rizzo but struck out Jason Heyward with Rizzo on second to keep the game tied.
J.B. Shuck singled leading off the ninth and was bunted to second before Saladino delivered.
“You’re looking for key wins when it doesn’t look very promising and these guys find a way to continue to fight,’’ Ventura said. “I’m proud of them. These last few days have been tough ones and we’re still fighting and winning games.’’
Todd Frazier’s three-run homer to center against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta in the sixth gave the Sox a 4-0 lead.
A revved-up sellout crowd of 39,510, which seemed to be split down the middle, watched Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera take a homer away from the Cubs’ Kris Bryant with a leaping catch in the first as it was all Sox early, followed by a Cubs rally late and capped by Saladino’s heroics that raised the Sox record to 49-50.
The suspended Sale likely was cheering it all on from home.
‘‘I love [Sale],’’ the NL scout said. ‘‘I think it’s great for the game. The game has always had these crazies. I wish Ty Cobb was still alive.’’