Posted on May 20, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The wins just won’t stop coming for Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale. Thursday night, Sale pitched a complete game in Chicago’s 2-1 win over the Houston Astros, improving to 9-0 on the season and making a little bit of history.
With the win, Sale becomes the first pitcher to win his first nine starts of a season since Brandon Webb did it in 2008. He also became the first White Sox pitcher to accomplish the feat since Eddie Ciotte in 1919 when the team was called the Black Sox. Ciotte would go on to win his first 12 starts, giving Sale plenty of work to do match him, but the way Sale has pitched this season, tying Ciotte with wins in his first 12 starts isn’t out of the question.
Sale was particularly masterful Thursday night, allowing just one run on four hits over the course of nine innings, as he was forced to out-duel Houston’s Collin McHugh, who pitched a gem himself. His nine strikeouts also tied Sale with Hall of Famer Ted Lyons for eighth place on the franchise’s all time strikeout list.
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After the game, Sale was pleased with his 9-0 record, but more excited about halting his team’s four-game losing streak. “I just try to go out and do my job every fifth day. That’s all I’m trying to do,” he said humbly. “9-0 is cool, it is. I enjoy it. I enjoyed snapping the skid we were in even more so than that.”
Chicago manager Robin Ventura was able to be a little more glowing after the game. “He’s special. He’s a great pitcher, he’s one of the best in the game. I just see him continuing to get better as the season goes along, as he goes through his career,” Ventura said, adding, “Any other place you go when there’s somebody like him throwing, there’s a packed house and there is a buzz.”
It was already Sale’s third complete game of the season, an impressive tally in an era in which so few pitchers are capable of going the distance. Houston manager A.J. Hinch, a former big league catcher, explained how Sale has evolved into a more efficient pitcher over the course of his career. “He was throwing some of his hardest fastballs late, but you can tell he’s making a conscious effort to be a pitcher more than just a dominant thrower.” Even in defeat, Hinch couldn’t hide how impressed he was with Sale, who has undoubtedly been one of baseball’s best pitchers so far in 2016.