Just how big of an outlier was this outing for Sale? Consider this: He's thrown 668.2 innings in his major league career, and he had never given up a home run on an 0-2 pitch until Lorenzo Cain took a hanging slider out the park for a 3-run shot in the third inning Wednesday night.
Sale gave up a second home run on a similarly lousy pitch to light-hitting Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar in the fourth inning.
It's extremely rare for Sale to give up home runs to any Kansas City hitter. No Royals player had taken Sale deep since Aug. 17, 2012, a span of eight starts.
Indeed, this was an out-of-character start for Sale, and it might have cost him whatever chance he had of beating out Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award. The two pitchers are statistically similar in a lot of categories:
- Sale is 12-4 in 25 starts; Hernandez is 14-5 in 31 starts.
- Hernandez leads the league in ERA at 2.14; Sale is right behind at 2.20.
- Hernandez has 225 strikeouts; Sale has 198.
- Sale leads the league with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings; Hernandez is at 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
- Hernandez leads the league with a 0.918 WHIP; Sale is right behind at 0.958.
- Sale's strikeout-to-walk ratio is 5.50; Hernandez is at 5.49.
I'm pretty certain Hernandez is going to win the Cy Young at this point. If all things are fairly equal, he's going to get the nod because he's made six more starts and pitched 51 more innings than Sale this year. That stint on the disabled list Sale had in late April and early May probably costs him more than one crummy outing in September against Kansas City, but last night's showing did not help his argument.