Chris Sale: He has four starts this season where he has recorded 10 or more strikeouts while allowing one earned run or less. He is the only White Sox pitcher to accomplish that in the past 100 years, and we've still got almost half a season to go.
Sale latest dominant outing came Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. The left-hander improved to 8-1 on the season in the Sox' 7-1 victory. It was Sale's second complete game of the year. He struck out a season-high 12, walked nobody and allowed just six hits. The Mariners did not score a run until the ninth inning, when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
I'll be honest: This was an extremely favorable matchup for Sale. It's not that the Mariners aren't a good team. They are, as their 47-39 record will attest. But when I saw the Seattle lineup, I noted the Mariners had six left-handed hitters in there -- James Jones, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Logan Morrison, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley.
Coming into Friday's action, left-handed hitters were posting an anemic .089/.196/.089 slash line against Sale. In fact, lefties had managed just four hits (all singles) off Sale all season.
Yeah, this wasn't going to end well for the Mariners. But give Seattle credit: its lefties went 4 for 21 in Friday's game, and Cano managed the first extra-base hit for a left-handed hitter off Sale all season. It was a bloop double in the ninth that should have been caught by Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo, but it still counts.
Nevertheless, the Mariners had no prayer of mounting a consistent attack with that left-hand dominant lineup. As TV analyst Steve Stone noted in the ninth inning on Friday, Seattle could have played this game 20 times and it probably would have lost it all 20 times.
I was looking at the Mariners' roster, and I can't blame manager Lloyd McClendon for stacking his lineup with lefties. He's only got four right-handed hitters on his team. He played three of them -- Corey Hart, Mike Zunino and Willie Bloomquist. The fourth, John Buck, is the backup catcher to Zunino.
McClendon played the cards he had. Against Sale, it was a losing hand.