DETROIT — Chris Sale set the franchise single-season record for strikeouts by a left-hander on Saturday night.
But that wasn’t the ball the White Sox pitcher clutched with pride after the team’s 7-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Sale was more satisfied to have retired Detroit’s designated hitter Victor Martinez in two consecutive at-bats.
Sale moved past fellow southpaw Gary Peters, who whiffed 215 batters in 1967, with two strikeouts in the first inning on Saturday. But the feat was clearly secondary to besting Martinez, who has eaten Sale alive throughout his career.
Prior to those two outs, Martinez was 12-for-20 versus Sale, including a leadoff double in the second inning on Saturday.
“I got Victor out,” Sale said with a laugh.
Sale finished the night with seven strikeouts and has 221 for the season.
The single-season total is the fifth highest in franchise history. Hall of Famer Ed Walsh holds the first four spots for his performances in the 1908, 1910, 1911 and 1912 seasons. Walsh struck out 269 in 404 innings in 1908, 258 in ’10 in 369 2/3 innings, 255 in ’11 in 368 2/3 innings and 254 in ’12 when he pitched 393 innings.
Sale, who has one start to go, has completed 209 innings.
“For this day in age of what Chris has done this early just shows he’s up there with the elite pitchers in the game,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Those are all nice things to have, but regardless of what the numbers are, you like him taking the mound every five days.”
Sale called the record “cool” but doesn’t seem to be too caught in his statistics. He’s more pleased to have completed a full season and be productive to the end.
“It’s something that will be fun to talk about with my friends and family in the offseason,” Sale said. “I don’t play for records or this and that. Just going out there and doing my job and it’s something that kind of falls in with it sometimes.”