Sale steps up for White SoxContinue reading.
Sale: ‘I just wanted to rip my own head off’
ANAHEIM, Calif. – As stunners go, this one will be hard to top.
Chris Sale, pitching like the best left-hander in baseball this season, was breezing along, on track to easily improve to 6-0 and lower his gleaming 1.59 ERA Saturday night.
Sale took the mound in the eighth inning with a 5-0 lead, and just like that – double, single, error, single — there stood Mike Trout in the batter’s box with the bases loaded representing the tying run.
“I just know the ball went over the fence and I wanted to rip my own head off,’’ Sale said.
One young superstar got the best of a young star pitcher, and just like that, Sale was out of the game after 115 pitches. Jake Petricka relieved him, and the Angels kept things going, not stopping until Erick Aybar – who had started the inning with a double — singled in the go-ahead run in a 6-5 Angels victory.
“It sucked,” Sale said. “You put your heart and soul into a game like that and it unravels. Disappointed. Threw a good pitch to a better hitter.”
One option for manager Robin Ventura was to perhaps give a Sox reliever a clean inning to start the eighth while allowing Sale — who had thrown 93 pitches and was making his fourth start since spending five weeks on the disabled list with a flexor muscle strain – the rest of the night off. But Sale is healthy now and was pitching on five days rest.
“He was going pretty good by that point,’’ Ventura said. “He’s a pretty good pitcher. You can’t take him out at that point. They were finding holes.
“It’s not pitch-count wise but how he does it. Toward the end there you could see him kind of amping up. He did that in the Boston [127 pitch] game where he was amped up more so than he was tonight. Especially the last couple you could see him come off the mound when he throws. At that point you know he’s done.’’
And as pitching coach Don Cooper said before the game, Sale deserves “the chance in every game to go as far as he can and be great because you can’t stop a guy from being great. Nobody stopped Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, all these great guys.’’
How improbable was the Angels comeback? They won at home for the first time after trailing 5-0 in the seventh inning or later since Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.
“They’re fighters,’’ Sale said. “No one in this league gives up. It matters how you finish it. They finished it.”
Going into the game, the two-time All-Star owned a 0.72 ERA over his last four starts. It crept even lower as he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
That seemed a long time before Trout hit a 3-2 changeup that looked to be a few pitches off the ground.
“It’s probably ball four or close to in the dirt,’’ Ventura said. “You tip your hat to him. That whole inning, anything they put in play found a hole or we couldn’t make a play. That ball, I don’t know too many people that hit that ball, or even if they hit it, they hit it like that. It’s frustrating but that’s part of baseball.”
Adam Dunn homered for the second time in two nights, Alejandro De Aza had two doubles and a sacrifice fly and Adam Eaton and Gordon Beckham each singled in a run in a two-run third inning against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker.
All of that gave the Sox (31-32), who now need to win Sunday afternoon to avoid being swept in three games after taking two of three from the Dodgers to start a six-game road trip.
“Things happen. That’s why this game is as crazy as it is,” Sale said. “You love it one minute, and you hate it the next. I’m not going to hang my head. I guess I already did, but I’m not going to go home and lose any sleep over this one. I just have to get ready for the next one and go from there.”