Sale sets strikeout record in White Sox win over Tigers
CHICAGO (AP) — He didn’t do it with an eephus pitch, but Chris Sale still made team history.
Sale broke the White Sox season strikeout record that had stood for more than a century as Chicago beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 on Friday night.
By getting James McCann looking at a 3-2 breaking ball for the first out of the second inning, Sale fanned his 270th batter of the season.
“It’s awesome, something that hasn’t set in yet but I know what it means,” Sale said. “I know what it is, I’m very thankful for it and appreciative of it.”
The lefty ace began the game with 267 strikeouts and topped the mark set by Hall of Famer Ed Walsh in 1908 when he struck out No. 269.
On a 1-2 pitch to McCann, Sale tried to set the mark with an eephus — a high blooper ball — but the pitch drifted well inside.
Sale (13-11) said the idea came into his mind after talking to members of the LaRoche family, including Dave, who threw a ‘La Lob’ during his career and is the father of Chicago first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche.
“You have to have fun in this game,” Sale said.
Sale’s record came on an eventful day for the White Sox. Earlier Friday, general manager Rick Hahn said he expected manager Robin Ventura to return, and also announced the team would not be retaining bench coach Mark Parent after the end of a disappointing season.
Sale allowed Jefry Marte’s second-inning homer while giving up five hits and striking out seven to end his season with 274. Entering play Friday, Sale led the American League in strikeouts and was second in the majors behind only Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (294).
He’s done that despite suffering a broken right foot in February that cost him all of his spring-training starts against big-league competition, something Ventura said might have contributed to Sale’s recent rough patch.
Sale gave up one run in seven-plus innings. He won for the first time since Aug. 21 and snapped a four-game losing streak. He was helped by J.B. Shuck’s diving catch in right field of a drive by Dixon Machado that ended the seventh.
“I think when you add in that he didn’t really have a spring training, a normal spring training, to be able to come back and do this is special,” Ventura said. “It just puts him up there with the elite.”
David Robertson picked up his 34th save in 41 tries.
Alfredo Simon (13-12) went eight innings and gave up two runs and five hits in losing his third consecutive decision. He couldn’t keep Detroit from losing its fifth in six games, though it did lead early.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster season for him — real good, real bad and tonight, he was real good,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Unfortunately, he was going against a pretty good pitcher on the other side of the diamond.”
Marte gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead when he led off the second with a home run into the bullpen in left. Chicago went in front 2-1 in the third on Adam Eaton’s two-run double, and Sale protected the lead.
“It means a lot for me to be involved in that and I take a lot of pride in that,” White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. “I’m glad that he always seems to give me a little more credit than I deserve because I don’t throw them. It’s been a lot of fun with him.”
ODDS AGAINST OZZIE
The White Sox are looking for a new bench coach after not bringing back Parent. Hahn said being bilingual isn’t a necessity, but “it’s going to be a positive.”
Ozzie Guillen is bilingual and has managerial experience with Chicago and also the Miami Marlins. So, could he get the role?
“I don’t think he’s going to be the bench coach next year, no,” Hahn said.
That wasn’t a shot at Guillen, as Hahn said he should be managing in the big leagues.
Tigers: DH Victor Martinez (left quadriceps soreness) was held out of the lineup and is day-to-day. He left Monday’s game against Texas after sustaining the injury while advancing from first to third and hasn’t played since.
White Sox: Flowers will have right knee surgery next week to remove floating cartilage.
Detroit RHP Justin Verlander (5-8, 3.39) faces Chicago RHP Erik Johnson (3-1, 3.45) on Saturday. Verlander has won his last two starts, allowing four earned runs in 13 innings.