White Sox All-Star Chris Sale established himself “with the elite pitchers in the game” this season, manager Robin Ventura said Friday.
But Sale’s season ended in a 6-1 loss to Kansas City, dropping his final record to 11-14 and his team’s record to 62-98 with two left to play.
“It’s kind of a recurring thing every year,” Sale said of a loss to end the season. “My last one is always a bad one. Maybe next year I can fix that and end on a happy note. I just didn’t have it tonight.”
Sale worked 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts. It finishes his season at 214 1/3 innings and 226 strikeouts in his first full season in the rotation.
“He starts putting himself up there with the elite pitchers in the game,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You realize how young he is and how fortunate we are to have him.
“He’s had a good year, and tonight wasn’t one of those. They swung it pretty good against him tonight and that was part of taking him out. I don’t think at that point you’re going to gain anything by having him trying to squeak out more innings.
“But he’s one of the best pitchers in the league and we’re lucky to have him.”
Ventura said Sale maintained his strength through the season, learning how to pace himself. But Sale probably pressed at times during the season in games where the Sox failed to score runs.
“We weren’t scoring runs for him and he felt like if he gave up one run, sometimes his mannerisms were like he had already lost the game. I don’t blame him for that. You have to guard against over-throwing and feeling like you have to strike everybody out to win.”
Sale said he will temper his thoughts about his own season with the overall lack of team success.
“You play this game for one reason and that’s to win a championship,” he said. “No matter what you do individually, you still strive for that championship and not being able to get there is tough. But you always have next year.”
Improving on his performances continues as his goal.
“There are things for the off season to take care of,” he said. “Once the final out is made, there are things to start assessing and take in, the good and the bad. I’m not much of a goal setter. For me, it’s just an everyday battle of doing everything you can, and I will continue that philosophy.
“You can strike out as many people as you want, but you have to win some games,” he said. “That’s something else I’m waiting for for next year.”