Sale nearly pitches perfect game in 3-0 White Sox win
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org May 12, 2013 10:28PM
Updated: May 13, 2013 12:22AM
The White Sox were in their 1983 ‘‘winning ugly’’ uniforms Sunday, but Chris Sale flirted with winning the game in baseball’s rarest and most beautiful way.
The 24-year-old lefty had a perfect game through 6 1/3 innings before Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout singled. It was the Angels’ only hit in a 3-0 complete-game victory for Sale and the Sox that salvaged the last game of a three-game weekend series.
‘‘You kind of start thinking about it, and after the sixth inning nobody is talking to you and you feel kind of funny,’’ said Sale (4-2), who threw only 98 pitches in his first career complete-game shutout. ‘‘Honestly, I didn’t wake up saying, ‘I want to throw a perfect game or no-hitter today.’ I just want to keep my team in the game and win this game — and we did. That’s the most important part.’’
Sale was masterful from the start and retired 19 straight.
‘‘I started thinking about it in the third inning,’’ catcher Tyler Flowers said. ‘‘I thought we were going to get it, but that’s a pretty good team.’’
The Angels’ best hitters, including Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, couldn’t touch Sale on a night when he had command of all his pitches.
‘‘Once he’s locating everything, they can’t just sit on one pitch,’’ said Sox manager Robin Ventura, who got his 100th victory. ‘‘Tonight was the best as far as having stuff.’’
The only other Angel to reach base was Chris Iannetta, safe leading off the ninth thanks to Alexei Ramirez’s throwing error, the 28th Sox error this season. But Iannetta was wiped out in a double play on the next play before Sale ended the game by getting a fly out from Alberto Callaspo.
Ramirez had been a hero in the seventh when he kept Sale’s gem alive by grabbing Callaspo’s grounder behind second base and throwing him out.
Trout’s hit came on the next play.
Ramirez drove in the first two runs in the seventh with a two-out single, then scored on Alex Rios’ double off starter C.J. Wilson (3-2).
Sale’s complete-game shutout was the Sox’ first at home since Jake Peavy did it May 18, 2011, against the Cleveland Indians.
Sale’s performance marked the sixth time a Sox pitcher threw a one-hit shutout with no walks or hit batters while facing 28 or fewer batters, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Sale kept a consistent tempo throughout the game.
‘‘He does that, and sometimes he does it to a fault,’’ Flowers said. ‘‘I was trying to stay on top of it, especially as it progressed later and later and the situation got bigger and bigger, to make sure he stayed within himself.’’
Sale’s night was as important for what it meant to the faltering Sox, who had lost five of their last seven games.
On Sale being a ‘‘stopper,’’ Ventura said, ‘‘It’s a tough assignment. He understands how it’s been going, so you need a guy like that who can go out and put together a game like that and give you a chance. It starts with the way Chris was pitching.’’