These kinds of things don’t happen to Chris Sale. Or at least they didn’t.
One of the more frustrating aspects of a season packed with frustrations last year on the South Side was the lack of run support for the All-Star starting pitcher. Sale, who finished fifth in American League Cy Young voting, ended last season with just an 11-14 record.
But Sale’s changing luck has been just one of the many differences between 2013 and 2014, as exemplified Friday night in a 9-6 White Sox win over the Indians. Sale was nowhere near his best, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks in just five innings of work, needing 105 pitches to get that far. But the Sox offense responded, holding off Cleveland rallies with rallies of its own. In the end, even a mediocre night from Sale earned him the win, his third of the season.
It’s the first time in his career he’s started a season 3-0.
“I’d definitely say that my performance tonight juxtaposed my outcome from last year,” Sale said. “Not fully, but definitely a step in the right direction. Not exactly how I drew it up with a ‘five (innings) and dive’ and lean on my offense and my bullpen.
“I definitely didn’t deserve to win this game tonight. With the way our offense exploded and our bullpen came in and picked me up, I was probably the last person that deserved to win this game. That’s just how it goes sometimes, and you’ve got to appreciate these just as much as the ones you deserve to win.”
Saying he didn’t deserve to win, though, might be a stretch for the lefty. After all, he had quite a bit of karma built up from last season, when the Sox averaged just 3.22 in games he started. This season, they’ve scored a combined 19 runs in three games, more than a six-run average.
And it’s nice the win came against Cleveland, too. The Indians owned Sale a season ago, with the lefty going 0-4 with an 8.61 ERA in four starts.
“These guys are always tough on him. They were tough on him last year,” manager Robin Ventura said. “And for whatever reason they foul off a lot of pitches. They’re probably seeing something off him. I don’t know what it is, but you don’t see that many teams foul that much off. He got up there, high pitch count. After last year, if anybody deserves one, it’s him and (Jose Quintana). He’ll take it.”