Chris Sale’s bid to win his first 10 starts of the season ended in spectacular fashion on Tuesday night.
The White Sox pitcher endured the longest inning of his career and then some as the Cleveland Indians gave him an early exit and the White Sox never recovered, losing 6-2 at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 21,550. Cruising through two-plus innings, Sale needed 43 pitches to escape the third inning and allowed six earned runs in 3.1 frame. Vying to become only the eighth pitcher in baseball history to win his first 10 starts, and just the second since 1920, Sale was tagged with his first loss. His earned-run average rose from 1.58 to 2.26 in the process.
The White Sox have lost 10 of their last 14 games.
With two outs in the third inning, Sale’s pitch count stood at 32, including only five in the frame, and he had retired eight of the first 10 batters faced. But what appeared to be another chapter in a spectacular start to Sale’s season quickly unraveled. He walked Jose Ramirez on 10 pitches even after he got ahead of him 1-2 in the count and Francisco Lindor singled. Mike Napoli’s drive to left-center field then fell in between Austin Jackson and Melky Cabrera for a two-run triple to put the Indians ahead for good.
But the inning wasn’t yet over.
Sale walked Carlos Santana on seven pitches and Juan Uribe won a nine-pitch battle when he dumped a 2-2 changeup into right for an RBI single. Though Sale struck out Marlon Byrd to end the inning, he never recovered.
Chris Gimenez started the fourth inning with a solo homer off Sale — only the sixth he has allowed in 71.2 innings this season. The left-hander would issue two more walks and an RBI single to Lindor to fall behind 5-1 before he exited the game.
Sale’s attempt to become only the first starting pitcher to win 10 straight since San Diego’s Andy Hawkins in 1985 ended with his shortest start since he lasted only three innings on Sept. 13, 2015.
Sale allowed six earned runs and seven hits with four walks. He struck out seven.
The White Sox offense looked as if it may put up a fight against Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin, who improved to 7-0 with eight sharp innings.
Adam Eaton opened the game with a solo home run to right field, his third, to give the White Sox a 1-0 advantage.
But White Sox bats again fell silent and Tomlin settled in and largely avoided trouble from there.
He retired Tyler Saladino with two on to end a potential second-inning rally and used a base-running mistake by the White Sox to build late momentum.
Down 6-1 in the fourth, the White Sox scored a run on consecutive one-out doubles by Jose Abreu, who had three hits, and Brett Lawrie. But Lawrie was caught off second base on Avisail Garcia’s grounder to shortstop and was thrown out after a brief rundown. On the play, Garcia overran first base and was doubled off to end the inning.
Beginning with the Garcia groundout, Tomlin retired 12 straight until Adam Eaton’s two-out single in the eighth inning.
The White Sox finished with six hits and scored three or fewer runs for the eighth time in 11 contests. They’ve produced three or fewer runs in 23 of 47 games this season and dropped to 7-16 in those contests.