Though he’s consistently been slighted for run support this season, Chris Sale has steadfastly refused to complain.
Sure, Sale has experienced plenty of frustration as the White Sox have failed to back him time and again. But as long as there’s effort, Sale won’t say a bad word.
On Tuesday night it was the energy exerted by veteran teammate Paul Konerko that pushed Sale to only his second win since May 18.
[RELATED: Six years after suspension, Quintana thrives]
Fresh off a back injury, Konerko beat out a potential double play ball to score the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
Sale (7-11) then did the rest and the White Sox won for only the third time in 16 games with a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees 3-2 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale allowed a run and five hits over 7 1/3 innings to win for only the second time in 12 starts.
“Yeah that’s huge,” Sale said. “That goes to show why (Konerko is) the king. How many times you see that? That might be the fastest I’ve ever seen him run. No offense to him. But he’s a grinder. He may not have the best wheels in the game, but he gave it everything he had right there and it was the difference in the game.”
[MORE: White Sox honor Mariano Rivera]
With the score tied at 1, the White Sox got consecutive singles from Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios to start the sixth inning.
Cleanup man Adam Dunn grounded into a fielder’s choice against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (10-7) to put runners on the corners with one out. Konerko, who had walked and flown out, then hit a grounder past third.
Hustling out of the box, the veteran, who only recently returned from a back injury that had him sidelined for nearly a month, just beat the relay throw from second base to give the White Sox a 2-1
“He works constantly on his speed,” said second baseman Gordon Beckham, who finished 2-for-3 with a double. “All kidding aside, that’s pretty gutsy for him to do that because his back’s probably not 100 percent. He’s gutting it out and you gotta like that.”
The White Sox added a third run in the seventh inning when Alejandro De Aza doubled in Beckham with two outs to go ahead 3-1. Conor Gillaspie’s two-out single in the fourth tied the game.
The outburst marked only the eighth time in 21 starts this season where Sale has received three runs of support. Sale entered the start with an average of 2.47 runs scored per nine innings, the lowest in the majors. He had gone 1-9 in his past 11 starts despite a 3.23 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 78 innings.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he thinks the production helped Sale on a night when he was “amped” early.
[SOX DRAWER: Adam Dunn's future left in limbo]
“He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of run support,” Ventura said. “It becomes harder for him to think he feels like he has to do everything. I think tonight was a good night.”
It was a good-but-not-sharp night for Sale.
He walked four batters and hit another. A Yankees runner reached scoring position in four of the first five innings Sale pitched.
But he pitched around his trouble spots and limited New York to a first-inning run even though he admitted he knows in the back of his mind “it’s the greatest franchise in all of sports.”
Even though he may have been preoccupied with that and another early deficit, Sale made due. He induced an inning-ending, bases-loaded groundout from Vernon Wells in the fifth inning and retired seven straight.
“We just haven’t been able to get him that early lead,” Konerko said. “Not that tonight was early. But we felt like when we pulled ahead there, certainly at 3-1, you always feel good with him on the mound.”