BY Daryl Van Schouwen — Staff Reporter
MIAMI – On Chris Sale days, the Sox always like their chances.
On Chris Sale days when Giancarlo Stanton is out of the lineup for the Miami Marlins, even more.
And when the White Sox ace is staked to a 2-0 lead before he takes the mound, well, it’s time to think series sweep.
“He’s got 14 [wins], so there’s usually a pretty good chance good things are going to happen,’’ said Adam Eaton, who hit Tom Koehler’s first pitch off the right-field pole for his seventh career leadoff home run in the Sox’ two-run first. He’s one of the best in baseball, and we have confidence every day he goes out there that he’s going to give us six, seven, eight, nine innings at time. You definitely have a good feel when you’re coming to the ballpark that you’re going to win that day.’’
That is probably starting to change though, given the All-Star Game American League starter’s 4.34 ERA over his last six starts. Sale (14-6) suffered the loss in the Marlins’ 5-4 victory that prevented the Sox’ first three-game sweep since the first week of May. He has been stuck on those career-high 14 wins since July 2, and Sunday’s loss was his fourth since then to go with two no-decisions. During that time, he has pitched to a 4.43 ERA while missing a start serving a five-game suspension for violating team rules, insubordination and destroying team uniforms.
Sale’s line of five runs, all earned, on eight hits and one walk with seven strikeouts raised his ERA to 3.30 and made his once credible Cy Young Award case a bit weaker. The line could also include, as Sale put it, “a brain fart” for leaving home plate uncovered when catcher Omar Narvaez fielded Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning, allowing Adelny Hechavarria to score from second with the go-ahead run in the Marlins three-run fifth.
“He got caught kind of watching it,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “A lot of stuff is happening, he needs to be able to cover home.’’
That came after Sale, pitching to rookie catcher Omar Narvaez for the first time, threw a 1-2 fastball that Koehler lined off Sale’s foot and into left field for a two-run single.
It this rate, teammate Jose Quintana (9-8, 2.85 ERA) will have a better argument for a Cy vote.
“Yeah, I’m not really doing too much to help this, either,’’ Sale said. “It sucks. You try to do your job and win a game for your team and you don’t do that and it’s frustrating. I don’t know what my lines or stats are. I just know I’m not winning games and that’s what I’m supposed to do.
“Whether it’s this or that or the other thing, I got to be better. I have to win games for this team.’’
This loss, which dropped the Sox to 56-61, ended when pinch runner Carlos Sanchez was thrown out at home on Tyler Saladino’s single to left fielder Christian Yelich, who was charging and got to the ball before Sanchez touched third. Catcher Jeff Mathis was waiting for Sanchez at the plate with Melky Cabrera in the on-deck circle.
“Perfect throw to the plate,’’ third base coach Joe McEwing said. “Take that chance every time. Give us an opportunity to tie the game and get it right back in it.’’
The Sox say they’ll take their chances with Sale every time and why not? He’s a five-time All-Star. But for a couple stellar no-decisions since July 2, he just hasn’t pitched like one with consistency since then.
“I take pride in what I do and how I handle myself and how I handle my business,’’ Sale said. “I hold myself to a very high standard. When I don’t reach that, it’s unacceptable.’’
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