Chris Sale proved on Sunday that the Chicago Cubs are human after all. That was in question after the team went on a roll that had them winning 15 of 16 and 16 of 18 games coming into their final game of the series against the Chicago White Sox. While Chris Sale’s team is likely not headed to the post season, the ace pitcher showed just how dangerous he could be if he does get to pitch a playoff game or two.
The only thing more impressive than Chris Sale’s 15 strikeouts against the Cubs was just how good the team had been hitting before he took the mound. In the first two games of this series, Joe Maddon’s team had scored six runs in each game. Since rookie left fielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber has joined the lineup on a regular basis, the team has been averaging more than five runs a game with him starting. On the flip side, the left-handed batter didn’t get the start against the lefthanded Chris Sale and and it was clearly an easier road to hoe.
Chris Sale not only struck out 15 batters, but he also only allowed one hit in his seven innings of work. Reliever Nate Jones came into the game after Chris Sale was lifted (well over the 100 pitch mark) and he promptly struck out the side, driving up the Cubs’ total strikeouts in the game to 18 over eight innings. The biggest “K” of the evening came in the sixth inning, when the Cubs managed to load the bases with two outs and Jorge Soler strode to the plate. A called strike three ended any chance of a rally and that would be the last time Chris Sale was threatened at all. It would also be the last time Chicago’s National League team would threaten to score, until Soler hit a solo home run in the top of the 9th with two out. After Addison Russell followed that with an infield single, Starlin Castro came to the plate and grounded out to end the game.
Chris Sale isn’t going to win the Cy Young or MVP award this season, largely because he’s having to rack up wins despite his team not being very good. Still, if you ask the Cubs to name some pitchers they would rather not see again this year, it’s a safe bet his name would be mentioned. Thanks to his outing, teams like the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates have to give thanks to Chris Sale, as the teams are competing against the Cubs for a NL wildcard spot.
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