Updated: July 1, 2014 7:00AM
The Chris Sale-Clayton Kershaw showdown scheduled for Monday night would have been fun. Two of the game’s best pitchers facing off in one of baseball’s most iconic venues had a chance to be one of the early highlights of the season.
That said, White Sox starting pitching besides Sale hasn’t been tough to watch these days — even if the marquee matchup was cancelled when the Sox pushed their ace’s next start up a day to Sunday. The Sox were able to do it after Sale threw only 40 pitches in his rain-shortened outing Tuesday, seizing a chance to get him another home start and keep him on his usual four days of rest.
“Whenever they need me or my name is called, I’m going out there. It just so happens to be Sunday, which for me makes sense because I only threw three innings,” Sale said. “So go out there on regular rest and get it going, try to find a groove.”
That’s what the Sox’ rotation has found.
Before Friday’s 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres, Sox starters had a 2.14 ERA and had been holding opponents to a .187 average over the last nine games. On Friday, John Danks threw seven innings and allowed two runs, including a Cameron Maybin solo home run, but he more than continued the rotation’s momentum.
Danks was part of building that, thanks to Friday and the eight scoreless innings he threw last Saturday against the Yankees.
“I know he went through the surgery and everything, but just locating and putting it in a spot that was tough to hit, I think that was as good as he’s been,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I know he’s made some adjustments. He’s excited about it, and that’s all stuff that goes into it when you start making adjustments.”
The Sox also have had to make adjustments, but the rotation has managed to improve. Though that certainly has been helped by Sale, who has thrown nine scoreless innings and struck out 14 since returning from the disabled list, it isn’t all on him.
“That number doesn’t just go down by one guy,” Ventura said. “All of them having to be doing something, so I think the improvements Hector [Noesi] had as well as John’s last outing, you’re hopeful that continues, that trend.”
Sale was supposed to get his chance to continue it Monday against Kershaw in Los Angeles in a duel that was highly anticipated well before the first pitch.
Instead, he’ll face San Diego’s Eric Stults on Sunday, and Jose Quintana will get Kershaw on Monday.
“I know people would probably like to see that matchup, but we’re thinking about it for us and him, getting back out there as quick as you can without rushing him, too,” Ventura said. “So this makes sense for us and him, and it has nothing to do with whether it was a [big] matchup and how he was going to pitch in L.A.”
NOTES: Robin Ventura said he’s “hopeful” Jose Abreu will be able to return Monday and that the first baseman will go through workouts Saturday and Sunday. The workouts, Ventura said, will be some “simulated stuff” that would replace a rehab assignment.
◆ Ronald Belisario got a vote of confidence from Ventura despite blowing his third save in six tries Wednesday night. “Right now, Beli is going to be the guy to do it,” Ventura said.
◆ Paul Konerko said he was available to pinch hit Friday. He said his back started bothering him Wednesday, the day after the lengthy Sox-Indians game.