Final Chris Sale Day of year quickly turns into tragic farce


Sep 27, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher

Chris Sale

(49) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

This is the new type of horror film. There’s no sole survivor here, no moral to the story or reason for why those who suffered had to pay, just total destruction and misery. The badness grows too fast and too far for anyone to escape.

In that vein, the final chance for Chris Sale to show his worth to the hometown Chicago crowd ended with him getting wrecked for three runs in the first inning, chased off after 5.1 innings in a 6-1 blowout loss, and had his ERA balloon over 3.00.

Halfway through the Royals dolloping on insurance runs against Jake Petricka in the sixth, the contingent of tortured loyalists in attendance decided that a 6-0 deficit was below even the slim standards for competitiveness this year had established. They booed, just a little, and were rewarded with a Gordon Beckham solo home run in the bottom half of the inning to make things less garish-looking. It was a big moment

Alexei Ramirez followed it up in the next at-bat with a long fly ball to the left field wall that Alex Gordon appeared to whiff on, prompting the fireworks to go off before anyone could realize that Gordon had overestimated the blast’s length by climbing the wall, hopped off of it, snagged it casually then immediately turned to the Sox bullpen and shared a few joking remarks with some confused relievers. It was not exactly the reaction that clues people in to what happened, but at least the Sox got to set off the fireworks twice; that’s what really is important.

Like most of his starts this season, the White Sox chances for success demanded near-perfection from Sale, and it was apparent he didn’t have it from the very start. The mid-90’s velocity was there, but Sale was missing so badly that he walked Emilio Bonifacio throwing only fastballs. After Avisail Garcia allowed a bloop Eric Hosmer single drop in front of him, Billy Butler got his three-hit night started by hammering a flat changeup to the right field gap for a two-run double. Despite another single to Salvador Perez, Sale almost escaped the first inning without further damage until Lorenzo Cain scooped an actually decent slider out to left to push the advantage to an insurmountable 3-0 mark.

After settling down for a couple of innings and working back from throwing over 30 pitches in the first, Sale nearly suffered the ignominy of allowing the first home run of the year to Jamey Carroll, and his escape with a double off the wall was short-lived. Sale was one strike away from pitching over Carroll’s blast, but bailed Gordon out of a 3-2 count by plunking him with a wayward fastball, and followed it up by grooving one to Bonifacio for an RBI single. At least he got to walk off mid-inning in the sixth to the applause that 24,474 could muster.

James Shields annihilated the White Sox lineup with his changeup all night, striking out a season-high 10 over seven innings and allowing only the Beckham solo shot. An Alexei Ramirez one-out triple in the fourth raised a momentary threat, but a miserably slumping Adam Dunn quickly struck out and snuffed out any chance of manufacturing a run, and Paul Konerko meekly flied out to left. The top six of the Sox batting order went 3-21 with eight strikeouts, but at least Avisail Garcia has a long winter to study Shields’ changeup.

Two more games to avoid 100 losses.

Team Record: 62-98

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