Coming off their first AL Central last place finish in club history, the White Sox are looking like a much better team in the early part of the 2014 season. Chris Sale, long known as the ace of the staff, was the star of the show, dominating the Royals from start to finish.
The game was actually a classic pitchers’ duel between Sale and James Shields, as the two teams went into the ninth inning with Chicago holding a slim 1-0 lead. In the end, Sale not only out-pitched Shields, but he also out-pitched the rest of Kansas City’s pitching staff as they surrendered four in the ninth inning to the White Sox to give the South Siders some breathing room.
The first eight innings were the real story for Chicago’s ace, who improved to 2-0 on the year with a sub-2.00 ERA. Sale was sporting a no-hitter through four innings and ended up allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out six.
Since moving into the rotation, Sale has been the best pitcher on the White Sox’ pitching staff, winning 17 games and posting a 3.05 earned run average in 2012. Last year, the big lefty posted an almost identical 3.07 ERA but managed to go just 11-14 thanks to the lack of talent on the roster around him.
This year’s team isn’t expected to be a great deal better than a season ago, but at least for now, Chicago is in the middle of the AL Central race thanks in large part to Sale who now has two of the team’s three victories on the year.
For his part, James Shields continues to be the hard luck ace he was a year ago. Despite sporting a 2.70 ERA after two starts, his record sits at 0-1 thanks to a lack of offensive support in either of his starts.
Chris Sale certainly knows that feeling.