Updated: September 30, 2013 7:50AM
White Sox veteran left-hander David Purcey doesn’t see Chris Sale’s displays of emotion as a detriment.
“I mean, he’s a competitor,’’ Purcey said before Sale went on a strikeout rampage against the Houston Astros in the last of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night. “Pretty much every guy in this locker room is a competitor. That drive to be better and push yourself to compete is in every one of us. It’s a good thing to have.’’
Even better to have is exceptional stuff and good command, which Sale used to strike out 12 Astros over eight-plus innings in a 6-1 victory by the White Sox. It was their 10th victory in 12 games and gave the Sox five consecutive series wins for the first time since May-June of last season.
There was little in this one to get Sale riled up, except for poor run support in the first six innings.
”There’s been times he’s let his emotions get him,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “But tonight, he didn’t let anything affect him as far as the score, even giving up the home run he just bounced right back.’’
Chris Carter’s homer on a hanging changeup tied the score at 1 in the seventh. But Avisail Garcia hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning, his third hit of the night and his first homer with the Sox. Shortstop and leadoff man Leury Garcia walked twice, stole a base and scored two runs, using a nifty slide to score on Jeff Keppinger’s short sacrifice fly in the seventh.
“Honestly the Garcia boys stole the show,’’ Sale said.
Honestly, it was Sale’s show.
“Observing what he does, [Sale is] fun to watch,’’ Purcey said. “He’s unique because his arm angle is not typical. His slider breaks really well and he can control it, and his fastball is a lot harder to pick up from that angle.
“As long as he attacks the zone, is aggressive and makes them put the ball in play he’ll be successful.’’
Sale attacked a water cooler after getting ripped for four home runs against the Texas Rangers in his last start Friday. He used that outing and the aftermath as incentive.
“Any time you lose and, quite honestly, get embarrassed, you always want to get back out on the right foot and help your team,’’ he said.
Sale didn’t have much to be embarrassed or upset about Wednesday. He set the tone by striking out the first three Astros he faced and fanning seven in the first three innings.
After Carter’s homer — his 26th on a belt-high changeup — Sale struck out Brandon Barnes for his 12th of the game and 193rd of the season, pushing him past his 2012 rookie total and giving him four starts with 12 or more strikeouts — the most in franchise history.
He has six 12-strikeout games in his career, tied for the most in franchise history with Juan Pizarro and Ed Walsh.
That Sale (10-12, 2.99 ERA) has passed last year’s strikeout total before September shows he still has plenty of gas in the tank.
“I feel good,’’ said Sale, who was lifted in the ninth inning after 107 pitches. “My arm feels loose, my body feels good. Something [pitching coach Don Cooper] and I have talked about is last year I kind of limped across the finish line. This one he’s like ‘Let’s sprint across at the end of the year.’ It’s something I’m working toward and trying to do.’’
And if he shows a little anger, so be it.
“I’m all right with that,’’ Ventura said. “Guys’ emotions run high when they’re not doing well. That’s just being competitive.’’