I love what Chris Sale did to Tampa Bay on Monday. I have no idea how the White Sox let him do it.
The young, left-handed starter torched a first-place Rays team for 15 strikeouts, one short of the team record and the most in that silly building that is embarrassing even for Bud Selig’s Major League Baseball.
Sale’s masterful performance required 115 pitches. How do the Sox let him throw 115 pitches?
How did the Sox go from a starter with a tender arm to making Sale the closer after a weekend off to returning him to the rotation to letting him throw 115 pitches?
Sale underwent an MRI recently that showed no damage. He has won his last three starts. Great, but he was still feeling something in his arm to spark the Keystone Sox’s conflicting talk and confusing changes that led to the X-ray. The Sox said they were moving Sale to the bullpen because they wanted to take the long view of his career. There’s no reason to think they would do otherwise then or now.
So how does this guy get to 115 pitches?
And how does he throw that many sliders?
Sale said the slider was the pitch putting the strain on his arm, or at least, the number of sliders he was throwing caused discomfort. He seemed intent on throw more fastballs since the MRI, but Sunday, the slider was his out pitch 11 of the 15 times.
So, it was back to greater demands on that whippy left arm attached to that spindly body. After Monday, Sale has thrown 57 2/3 innings this season, which is about two good starts from topping the career-most 71 he threw last season. That would leave Sale with more than a half-season to go when every inning is a career best for a guy who had some kind of arm issue already.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the web, but how does that guy throw 115 pitches in May?
Smart or not, Sale had no doubt he was going out there for the eighth inning.
“I felt just as good,’’ Sale said. “Obviously, the situation dictated going out there and giving everything you've got left. I talked to Jake Peavy in the seventh. He said, ‘Hey, your pitch count is up there, leave it all out there.’ I felt I did that.’’
Listening to Peavy is part manning up and part playing on the expressway.
Peavy’s attitude is all about winning the next pitch and the one after that and the one after that. It’s the kind of attitude you want from everyone on your team.
Peavy’s attitude also is crazed. It needs to be reined in or sat on, take your pick. Peavy and now apparently Sale need a babysitter.
Peavy’s 2011 season died after he volunteered his surgically repaired right shoulder muscle to pitch four innings of relief in June. Peavy’s July was awful, his August was bad, and he was done before September was over.
It wasn’t Peavy’s fault. Blame Ozzie Guillen and Don Cooper. A guy like Peavy needs an adult in charge. And if a grown man needs that, then a kid like Sale certainly needs a chaperone.
Sale’s health is vital for now and the future. That’s especially true with John Danks on the disabled list because of a shoulder problem while the Sox find themselves in contention for the AL Central.
Say this for the Sox, though: They have a history of keeping pitchers healthy and making them better. Sale appears to be a particularly acute project in that regard.
Maybe Sale is too young to know the difference between pain and injury, thus requiring a reassuring MRI. Maybe everybody fell on the grenade for him, creating some laughable excuses for decisions. Maybe Sale can handle more than he thinks, which seems to be the way the Sox approached the experiment Monday.
Whatever, Dr. Cooper had better hope there are no results to hear about before Sale’s next scheduled start.