You’d probably have a hard time convincing Yankees starter David Phelps that Chris Sale hadn’t pitched in five weeks.
Though Phelps pitched pretty well himself, the right-hander knew quickly the challenge he faced in a matchup against the White Sox ace. In his return to the mound, Sale outpitched Phelps and the White Sox held on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I knew I had to put up zeroes, because he wasn’t going to give anything up today,” Phelps said. “That’s one of the better outings I’ve seen out of anybody.”
Sale used a three-pitch mix to dominate New York hitters.
He retired the first 17 batters he faced and only allowed one hit in six sharp innings.
Sale struck out 10 batters, marking the 12th time in his career he has reached double-digits, which ties him with Alex Fernandez for the fourth most in franchise history.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano said. “He’s got a very good fastball and a good changeup and a slider and he pitched a very good game tonight.”
Given how Sale has dominated left-handed hitters, Yankees manager Joe Girardi loaded his lineup with right-handers and switch-hitters. Including an 0-for-3, three-strikeout showing by Jacoby Ellsbury, lefties are hitless in 23 at-bats against Sale this season.
Right-handers, at least, brought a .213 average into the game.
It didn’t matter.
Sale mixed his changeup in 22 times among the 86 pitches he threw, with 13 going for strikes. Seven of his 10 strikeouts came against righties.
“It’s an effective pitch that he’s developed and it’s a big part of his repertoire,” Girardi said. “And I think it really neutralizes the right-handed hitters as well.”
It didn’t take long for Phelps — who allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts — to recognize he would have to be at his best as well. Aside from the two runs he allowed with two outs in the second inning, Phelps was sharp.
But he knew it didn’t matter.
“You just know you’ve got to be that much better going the rest of the way just to give us a chance to win,” Phelps said.