Deserved, I would say
Chris Sale took a no-hitter into the fifth, whipped through seven easy shutout innings with just 93 pitches, and ended his night by breaking a bat--was it even his?!--against the wall outside the dugout after coughing up a 5-0 lead.
Well, there are a lot of reasons, but it's best to focus on the biggest one, both thematically and physically. It's Mike Trout; an infallible uber-mensch who can take something quaint like giving your Cy Young candidate a Molina-speed hook and make it the biggest powder keg for debates on Robin Ventura's decision-making of the season. Trout took a game that was leaning slightly toward the dark side after Sale had lost his shutout and loaded the bases, and painted it black with a moonshot game-knotting grand slam on a low and away changeup.
Jake Petricka came in after Sale and took the loss, and maybe we're grateful, since no one could process any more information after that.
In terms of root causes beyond Mike Trout being a terrifying bat-creature, there are a few worth listing:
--Alexei Ramirez became the second White Sox infielder of the night to treat a double play groundball like a hot coal to put Colin Cowgill aboard and keep Chris Iannetta on base. It didn't keep Trout from coming up, but it ramped up Trout's potential damage from "scaring the crap out of us" to "breaking our hearts."
--Howie Kendrick should have struck out twice in front of Trout and didn't. The man checked up twice on two breakers from Chris Sale while playing two-strike protection against a guy throwing 95 mph. Maybe he's who we should be terrified of.
--Robin Ventura took heat for leaving Sale in as he allowed hits to four of the first five guys he faced in the eighth, and he certainly took heat for leaving him in to face Mike Trout representing the tying run. And for not warming the bullpen sooner, and for turning to Jake Petricka to put out a fire. I think there's a fair and sound, but not overwhelming argument against all of these moves. But with a cadre of meh relievers who don't even stack up all that well against Sale in his fourth time through a batting order, this is where the Sox miss Nate Jones or Addison Reed, or old-school Matt Thornton the most; someone who provides security in their own right, rather than just being the theoretical fresh reliever.
Sale is the ace, and all the post-game defense from management is how that status lends him absolute trust. Maybe that's the only way to rule, but taking that at face value, I'll reiterate what I said after the seventh.
The point of the game where the Sox needed to trust their ace the least is when deciding whether to push an eighth inning out of him with a five-run lead and a fresh bullpen. That's the point in time where the side Ventura would err on was the most disappointingly predictable.
Other than all that, this was a highly watchable game for two hours. The Sox cleaned up on Matt Shoemaker behind encouraging two-hit nights from two of their struggling outfielders. A healthy-looking Adam Eaton ripped an RBI single in the third, advanced to second on an error and scored on a Gordon Beckham single, and legged out a bunt single later on. And the even more-maligned Alejandro De Aza pounded two doubles in the third and fourth, leading to a score each time.
Handed a mediocre but unfamiliar starter in Matt Shoemaker, the Sox looked foolish in their first turn through the order, then knocked him out before he could complete his third, with a fifth-inning Adam Dunn bomb to center chasing him.
It was enough to stake Chris Sale to an uncommonly luxurious 5-0 lead that he would go on to...
--This was the first Chris Sale start of the year that ended in a White Sox loss
--Lefties were 0-31 off Sale coming into the night. Now they're 2-34 thanks to Josh Hamilton. One of those hits came in the eighth
--The White Sox are somehow 0-10 on Saturdays. Ban Saturdays?
--Jose Abreu struck out four times and looked like drunk Joe Borchard doing it, and now no one is discussing it. Cui bono, Jose?!
Team Record: 31-32
Next Game: Saturday at 2:35 p.m. CT at Fake Los Angeles on WGN
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