Sale plays stopper, but White Sox bullpen blows lead in 6-4 loss
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 23, 2014 9:26PM
Updated: June 23, 2014 11:20PM
BALTIMORE, Md. — It was a good night for the White Sox to have ace Chris Sale on the mound.
‘‘Every night is a good night to have Chris Sale pitching,’’ manager Robin Ventura said before the Sox’ game Monday against Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. ‘‘There have been great pitchers who have been the guys that, if you’re in a bad stretch, guys like him can help you out of it. Just stop it in its tracks. He’s that guy. He’s a No. 1 guy.’’
By stopping ‘‘it,’’ Ventura was referring to a four-game skid — with all the losses coming against the Minnesota Twins — to open an 11-game road trip.
Sale did his share, but the Sox’ bullpen couldn’t protect a two-run lead, and the Orioles won 6-4 on Chris Davis’ three-run home run against closer Ronald Belisario in the ninth inning. Davis, who was pinch-hitting for Delmon Young, launched a one-out blast into the right-field seats after Steve Pearce singled and Adam Jones was hit by a pitch.
Sale (2.27 ERA) allowed 11 hits on a pitching line that paled next to double-digit-strikeout, no-walk lines he has put up twice this season. On this night, his fight had to trump his might.
After Jones hit a changeup over the center-field wall for a two-run homer in the first, the Orioles peppered Sale for 10 more hits, including consecutive singles by Nelson Cruz, Young and J.J. Hardy that loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. But Sale got Manny Machado to tap to third baseman Conor Gillaspie for a force at the plate before Jonathan Schoop hit into a double play.
In the fourth, Sale escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation by getting Pearce on a short fly to right and striking out Jones. In the third, he struck out Young and Hardy with two runners on.
‘‘You have to have the mentality,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘There’s a certain attitude, too. Those [top-tier] pitchers accept it. He knows where he’s at, what he means to us and, when he takes the mound, what’s expected and all those things. It’s not always easy being that guy, but he understands it and accepts it.’’
When No. 9 hitter Caleb Joseph blooped a single in front of center fielder Adam Eaton to lead off the sixth, Sale bent over at the waist, as if to question his bad luck. He then got Nick Markakis to hit into a double play before Pearce flied out to Eaton near the 410-foot sign in center. Sale reacted as though he thought Pearce had homered, so the luck factor evened up some. It was Sale’s 107th and last pitch, and Javy Guerra took over in the seventh with the Sox leading 4-2.
Guerra pitched a scoreless inning before Zach Putnam allowed a two-out homer to Joseph in the eighth that cut the Sox’ lead to 4-3.
While Sale did the heavy lifting on the mound, Jose Abreu did it for the Sox’ offense, collecting his 58th, 59th and 60th RBI with a grounder in the third, his 22nd homer in the sixth and a two-out double in the seventh. The Sox dropped to 11-4 in games in which Abreu has two or more RBI.
After Abreu’s homer in the sixth, cleanup man Dayan Viciedo doubled. Two outs later, Gillaspie broke a 2-2 tie with a double near the left-field line against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen. The ball barely eluded Cruz’s outstretched glove.