White Sox sail past Twins as Chris Sale earns win No. 17
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org September 14, 2012 11:48PM
White Sox left-hander Chris Sale went six innings Friday night and gave up three hits and no walks. He struck out five Twins. | Jim Mone~AP
Updated: October 16, 2012 6:15AM
MINNEAPOLIS — With rookies Addison Reed, Nate Jones and Hector Santiago playing significant roles in the bullpen, starter Jose Quintana holding down the No. 3 spot in the rotation and Dylan Axelrod being used in various roles, holding on to win an American League Central title while building for the future would rate as a superb achievement for the White Sox.
In defeating the Minnesota Twins 6-0 behind 23-year-old left-hander Chris Sale — not a rookie but a rookie starter — to keep the victorious Detroit Tigers behind them for another day on Friday, the Sox took another small step toward that end. They lead by one game with 19 left.
“I think it will be a heck of an accomplishment,’’ said pitching coach Don Cooper, who has worked with rookies shuttling back and forth from Class AAA Charlotte throughout the year while guiding Sale through his first season of starting. “I will feel a sense of accomplishment if we get in.’’
Sale (17-6, 2.78 ERA), the Sox’ first 17-game winner since Gavin Floyd in 2008, was superb with three hits allowed and no walks. He struck out five and left after throwing 98 pitches with the Sox leading 5-0.
“He’s just good,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s in [the Cy Young picture]. He’s as good as anybody in the league.’’
Kevin Youkilis’ home run in the seventh inning, his third homer in two games, gave the Sox a 4-0 lead, and Alex Rios drove in Dewayne Wise from second with a single to make it 5-0. Rios has 86 RBI, two behind team leader Adam Dunn.
Dayan Viciedo drove in two runs, the Sox’ first on a ground out to second that scored Rios (double), who had advanced on A.J. Pierzynski’s fly out to right; and their second run on a bases-loaded walk by Twins starter Esmerling Vasquez (0-2) in the fourth. Alexei Ramirez had an RBI single in the sixth. Wise hit a sacrifice fly that scored Gordon Beckham (single) in the ninth for the Sox’ sixth run.
The Sox have relied heavily on home runs for their offense in recent weeks, so scoring five without pleased Ventura.
“Youk messed it up with a homer, but other than that, it was nice to scratch across some runs,’’ Ventura said.
After Sale, Ventura called on Brett Myers (two scoreless innings) and Matt Thornton (one) to close it out. But there will be more chances for the rookies.
The Sox added yet another to their bullpen by recalling right-hander Jhan Marinez, who finished the season at Charlotte with nine consecutive scoreless appearances. Marinez (who was acquired as part of the compensation for the Miami Marlins agreeing to terms with manager Ozzie Guillen) was one of eight rookies to pitch in the Sox’ 9-8 win in 14 innings in Kansas City on July 13, a major-league record.
The thought of winning a division in the same year something like that happens seems odd, but the Sox will push for more should they hold off the Tigers for the AL Central title.
“Once you get in, because we’ve been in it before, it’s the lottery,’’ Cooper said. “You got to be in it to win it. And the hardest thing to me is getting in. That’s what we’re seeking. But if we get in, you got to believe it will be one heck of an accomplishment.
“We’ve been able to hold it together, and we got  days to try to continue that.”