KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The White Sox were officially eliminated from American League Central title contention Sunday, a foregone conclusion which almost no one noticed happening.
So it goes when you play at a 49-67 clip after a 23-10 start. What’s left to play for? Pride, possibly third place and individual achievements, starting with:
*Chris Sale (16-8, 3.03 ERA), who has two, possibly three more starts with which to build his Cy Young portfolio. Sale starts Wednesday on the road against the Phillies, ranked last in the majors in hitting, and would face the 20th-ranked Rays offense next Tuesday and the 12th-ranked Twins in the season finale Oct. 2 if he takes his normal turns. With an off day Thursday, Sale will get five days rest between one of the starts.
Ventura suggested Sale, who needs three starts to surpass his career high of 31, is four innings shy of his career high (214 1/3 in 2014) and has his eye on 230, will take the ball three more times as long as there are no fatigue issues.
Sale has been maxing out his workloads of late,
“We’ll see how they are,’’ Ventura said of Sale and his other All-Star left-hander, Jose Quintana. “You’re looking at what’s best for them and if they’re healthy enough to go and they want to go then they’re going to go. But if something comes up to where they’re not feeling right then they probably wouldn’t pitch.’’
Quintana (12-11, 3.26) can only make two more starts. He needs four innings to reach 200 innings for the fourth straight season and two starts to reach 32 for the third straight year. He said Sunday he would like to record a complete game before the season is over.
*Todd Frazier, who has already reached career highs for homers (37) and RBI (94) is within range of 40 and 100. The 40-100 feat has been accomplished 10 times in club history, including five by Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas (1993, ’95, ’96, ’00 and ’03), twice by Paul Konerko (2004-05) and once by Albert Belle (1998), Jim Thome (2006) and Jermaine Dye (’06).
*This is a long shot because of his home run total, but Jose Abreu (25 homers, 95 RBI) has a chance to join Albert Pujols as the only player in history to finish with 30 and 100 in his first three seasons. That seemed impossible through July, but Abreu – who launched a 438-foot bomb to center field against Yordano Ventura Monday — has 14 homers, 40 RBI over his last 45 games.
*Adam Eaton has a strong case for becoming first Sox outfielder to win Gold Glove since Ken Berry in 1970.
*Right-hander Nate Jones (2.39 ERA) needs three holds to tie Barry Jones (30) for the club record.
*Closer David Robertson (3.62 ERA) five saves shy of a career-high 40. Robertson has seven blown saves.
*The “battle” for the team lead in stolen bases. Frazier (who got caught by Yordano Ventura getting walk-off lead Monday) and leadoff man Adam Eaton each have 12, Tyler Saladino has 11 and Tim Anderson 10.