a supposedly critical early-season NFC East matchup.
Instead, my eyes were cast toward U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night as the two best pitchers in the American League this year went head-to-head.
White Sox left-hander Chris Sale struck out eight over eight innings and allowed just a solo home run to Victor Martinez and four hits to lead the South Siders to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers and right-hander Max Scherzer (pictured).
Sale's strikeout of Austin Jackson to end the third inning was his 200th of the season. He became the first pitcher in Sox history to record 200 strikeouts before hitting the 200-inning plateau. Previously, Javier Vazquez was the fastest Sox pitcher to 200 Ks in one season. Vazquez recorded his 200th strikeout of the 2007 season in his 207th inning. Sale got there in just 190.2 innings.
This was not a good night for Scherzer (19-3). For the third consecutive start, he was denied in his bid for his 20th victory. He allowed five runs (four earned) and needed 90 pitches to get through four innings. By the fifth inning, he had been removed from the game.
That said, Scherzer is still going to win the Cy Young Award in the American League this year. His team is in first place, and how can you argue with a 19-3 record? He's been awesome. But if you look at the statistics as a whole, the only category Scherzer has a significant advantage over Sale in is the won-loss column. Sale is just 11-12 because, well, the White Sox stink. Sale has posted a quality start in seven of his 12 losses. If he had a real team behind him, he'd have 18 or 19 wins, too, and we'd have a neck-and-neck race for the Cy Young. Let's look at some of the other stats besides the won-loss record:
Sale's ERA is 2.90; Scherzer's is 3.01.
Sale has four complete games this season; Scherzer has none.
Sale has a shutout to his credit; Scherzer does not.
Sale has thrown 195.2 innings; Scherzer has pitched 194.1.
Scherzer has 215 strikeouts; Sale has 207.
Scherzer's WHIP is 0.962; Sale's is 1.037.
Scherzer strikes out 10.0 men for every nine innings pitched; Sale fans 9.5 for every nine innings pitched.
Sale's K/BB ratio is 5.05; Scherzer's is 4.48.
These two men have similar numbers in every category except one: wins and losses. They have both been just outstanding. Scherzer will get to show his stuff in the postseason again this October. It is too bad Sale's brilliant season has gone to waste on the 2013 White Sox.