The chance for 100 losses still is very much in play.
The White Sox lost perhaps their best chance to avoid the dubious distinction on Friday night when the Kansas City Royals scored early against Chris Sale and rolled to a 6-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale was out of the game by the sixth inning as the White Sox lost for the 22nd time in 28 games and are at 98 losses -- the fifth-most in franchise history -- with two to play.
The White Sox have only lost 100 games three times in 113 seasons. Erik Johnson faces Royals rookie Yordano Ventura on Saturday night and Jose Quintana matches up against Bruce Chen on Sunday.
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With an early four-run deficit against James Shields and nothing on the line except for his pitcher’s health, White Sox manager Robin Ventura decided to end Sale’s night after 96 pitches.
“He’s had a good year and tonight wasn’t one of those,” Ventura said. “They swung it pretty good against him tonight and that’s part of taking him out. I don’t think at that point you’re going to gain anything by having him trying to squeak out any more innings. But he’s one of the best pitchers in the league and we’re lucky to have him.”
Sale settled in after a three-run first inning but the White Sox couldn’t score anything against Shields.
Sale allowed four runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander finished the season 11-14 with a 3.07 ERA, 226 strikeouts and only 46 walks in 214 1/3 innings.
He established a franchise-record with a 4.91 strikeouts to walks ratio.
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Though he said his season was disappointing because of the team’s overall poor play, Sale was proud of the way he held up physically throughout the year. He made one more start than he did a season ago but completed 22 1/3 more innings. Sale also had 34 more strikeouts and walked five fewer batters.
“I felt strong throughout the whole year,” Sale said. “I don’t know how many starts I had. I don’t know if I made as many or more than last year, but I was happy to be able to be out there and not have to be quite as on a leash as I was last year. Just go out there and be another pitcher.”
Shields only surrendered a sixth-inning solo home run to Gordon Beckham over seven innings. He struck out 10 and allowed a run and four hits.