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White Sox Fri May 23 2014

Chris Sale Returns with a Big Game

Sox_200.pngOh man, is Chris Sale good.

Though the bullpen almost blew it, Sale earned a victory last night against the Yankees. In his first game in over a month after a DL stint, Sale had an absolutely masterful performance. The guy is back.

Sale was actually perfect through the first 5.2 innings, which was no accident. The Yankees were flailing at fastballs on the corners and off-speed stuff, they were watching clear strikes fly by them and they didn't make solid contact until Yangervis Solarte flied out to center field in the fifth. Even that was just a harmless fly out.

He was just toying with guys. In consecutive swings, he got Brendan Ryan to fling his bat while swinging at a low-and-away pitch, and then Zoilo Almonte lost his helmet missing an off-speed pitch. Sale struck out 10 batters and allowed one hit and no walks in six innings.

Not to go Full Interweb on everyone, but this game ranks among one of the top Chris Sale games. Last year he worked the Angels for one hit over nine innings, and in 2012 he threw 15 strikeouts against Tampa Bay. This one has to be up there, if only for the unexpectedness of it. He would have been forgiven if he was rusty, but instead he was just as good as ever.

During the game, Hawk Harrelson said that he would choose Sale as the best active lefty who can get you a win if healthy. Yes, the Hawkeroo is a huge homer (and by the way, the statement with all those qualifiers is such a Hawk thing to say), but he's right. When Sale is throwing like he did last night - the fastball is popping, the off-speed stuff is thrown in when hitters aren't guessing for it, he's hitting all of his spots all over the strike zone without getting the least bit wild, and he's working at a brisk pace -- how can anyone hit Chris Sale?

One of the best things about Sale is that he's so consistent. Very rarely does he get rocked, and more often than not he pitches a great game. He'll throw a ton of strikeouts and he'll rack up innings without issue. This year he has a 2.30 ERA, and of course that will be tough to maintain, but in 2012 he had a 3.05 ERA and last year he had a 3.07 ERA. His ERA-plus is always high, his WHIP is always low.

Sale is an absolute ace, and his return comes at a nice time for the Sox. Not that anyone forgot, but Thursday night was a strong reminder of how good he is.

 

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