Warren Spahn, who is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers of baseball’s second modern era and whose 363 career victories make him the winningest left-handed pitcher in major-league history, ended his career with 245 losses, embodying the human fact that even the best of the best falter at times without diminishing their reputations.
The Chicago White Sox saw this unfortunate phenomenon firsthand in last night’s frustrating 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Despite carrying a lead 5-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, things fell apart for the White Sox as the Angels surged even on a grand slam by Mike Trout, followed by one more run. If there are two things that the South Siders need to take away from this game, they are that ace Chris Sale is dominant but not invincible, and that the tiniest of errors can start a swift chain reaction that redirects fate from a win to a loss.
Two nights ago, the pitching was shaky and the offense couldn’t pick it up. This time, a small defensive mishap helped Sale dig his own hole, and in the subsequent shock, the offense ran out of any kind of last-minute spark. The White Sox also failed at one of their typical strengths, coming from behind in the ninth inning, a feat they’ve achieved the most times of all 30 MLB teams this season. It did not help that rookie slugging sensation Jose Abreu went 0-for-4 with However, the White Sox already proved they’re capable of winning without Sale and Abreu thanks to both players’ respective DL stints earlier this season.
In reaction to the loss, which was one of the team’s more difficult ones to stomach so far this season, one White Sox writer chocked the loss up to a new kind of curse, a curse of Saturday, because of the fact that the White Sox have yet to win on a Saturday this year, posting an 0-10 record in the first half of the weekend. That seems both arbitrary and too closely resembles scapegoating the uncontrollable, an unfortunate tendency that characterizes Chicago sports whenever things don’t quite pan out, as they’re prone to do.
Disregarding the final score, the fact remains that Sale is one of the best young starters in the game right now. Moving forward, the White Sox need to keep capitalizing on their increased chances to win games with him on the mound while understanding that they also need to tap into all facets of their game to come out on top, with or without Sale.