Unfazed by a one hour, 16-minute rain delay, Miguel Gonzalez pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings of three-hit ball, and Todd Frazier belted his 40th home run Wednesday night to lift the White Sox to a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Sox won their fifth straight game and still hold an outside shot at finishing .500, needing to complete a four-game sweep against the Rays (65-93) on Thursday and a three-game season-ending sweep of the last-place Minnesota Twins this weekend.
Gonzalez, let go by the Baltimore Orioles during spring training, finished with a 3.73 ERA. He struck out five and walked none.
David Robertson got the final two outs with one pitch, a double-play grounder by Kevin Kiermaier for his 37th save. The Rays have lost six straight.
Frazier, who extended his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games, became the seventh Sox player (12th time) to hit 40 homers. He connected in the seventh inning against Eddie Gamboa to get within two RBI of 100.
“It’s a great feat to have,” Frazier said. “I had a bunch of people text me ‘it’s coming. Today is the day.’ I’m glad to get it over with and now it’s on to another goal of mine.”
The game was delayed 21 minutes at the outset and then again during the third inning but moved along quickly, finishing in 2 hours, 10 minutes.
“I was in the cage, moving around, stretching and I threw twice [to stay warm],” Gonzalez said. “That kept me in the game. Mentally, that’s not an easy thing to do. But I was able to go out and just make pitches and try and minimize damage.”
Gonzalez finished his season with a 2.72 ERA over his last 13 starts.
Sale not certain for Sunday
Chris Sale would have enough rest, four days, to pitch on the final day of the season Sunday but manager Robin Ventura said he was still in the process of deciding whether the give the left-hander the ball one more time or call it a year.
Sale has already logged a career-high 221 1/3 innings and would take a 17-9 record and 3.21 ERA and major-league high six complete games into the Cy Young Award balloting if he has pitched his last game. He is among the favorites for the award, along with Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander, to name three.
When Ventura talked to media before the Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday in a game delayed by rain for 21 minutes at the start and again for more than an hour during the third inning at U.S. Cellular Field, he hadn’t talked to Sale about the possibility of pitching Sunday against the Minnesota Twins.
Ventura said he didn’t know about Sunday’s starter.
Sale has struck out 224 batters, the second highest mark of his career, and wouldn’t have much to accomplish with one more start. Calling it a season to allow him to begin resting for 2017 might be the best call, although he said after his start Tuesday against the Rays that he feels as good as he ever has at the end of a season.
The Sox have had three Cy Young winners – Jack McDowell in 1993, LaMarr Hoyt in 1983 and Early Wynn in 1959.
Sale has finished in the top six in Cy voting in each of his previous four seasons. He leads the AL in fWar (5.2), is third in WHIP (1.03) and tied for third in strikeouts.
Eaton on the skipper
With speculation about Ventura’s status for next year coming to a head – his contract is up after the season — Adam Eaton was asked for his take on the only manager he has played for as a Sox. Eaton also played for Kirk Gibson with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I’ve always enjoyed Robin. I’ve always backed Robin,’’ Eaton said. “He’s a tremendous manager, people person, communicator. I’d welcome him back. I’d love to have him back, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the higher-ups again.’’
Gibson was a gritty, “up-tempo, every game matters type,” Eaton said.
“Robin brings a kind of relaxed fit, ‘this is a long season [but] you are going to grind every single at-bat, grind every game out and let the pieces fall where they may,’’ Eaton said.
“Both have very well put-together approaches to baseball.’’
This and that
Carlos Rodon and James Shields are slated to start Friday and Saturday against the Twins, with Sunday’s starter to be announced.
*The Sox are 20-8 over their previous 28 games at home going into Wednesday’s game.
*Jose Quintana is one of three pitchers in the majors with four straight seasons of 30 or more starts and 200 or more innings since 2013.