CHICAGO – Chris Sale just can’t seem to catch a break.
Sale delivered another strong performance, striking out 10 while allowing three runs in eight innings. The White Sox still fell short, losing to 4-0 to Cleveland on Sunday as the Indians completed their first four-game sweep in Chicago since 1948.
“Just another tough one,” Sale said. “Just got to keep your head up, keep plugging along, keep chugging and try to put this one behind us.”
Sale (5-7) was perfect through the first three innings before Drew Stubbs led off the fourth with a bunt single. Stubbs scored on Ryan Raburn’s two-out double and the Indians tacked on one more in the inning on Carlos Santana’s RBI single.
The Indians added another run off Sale in the fifth when Michael Brantley began the inning with a single and later scored on Lonnie Chisenhall’s groundout.
Sox manager Robin Ventura said the Indians just seemed to come up with the big hit against Sale when they needed it.
“They were efficient and when they got a hit, it seemed like it put them ahead,” Ventura said. “It’s tough luck, but you see the stretch [Sale’s] been on with the strikeouts and getting to eight innings. It’s tough luck.”
Sale went 0-5 with a 3.19 ERA, 53 strikeouts and nine walks in June – the Sox scored a total of nine runs during his six starts in the month. He hasn’t won since May 17 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Once again, Sale’s teammates had no solution for Justin Masterson, who gave up six hits, struck out eight and walked one, blanking the Sox for the second time this year.
After Masterson (10-6) began the ninth with two strikeouts, he allowed a single to Alejandro De Aza and hit Alexei Ramirez with a pitch. Masterson then struck out Alex Rios looking to wrap up his major league-leading third shutout of the season.
“I think that’s what you hope for every time,”” Masterson said.
Masterson faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings thanks to two double plays and a pickoff. The Indians turned four double plays overall.
Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said Masterson dominated with a combination of pitches.
“He was throwing variations of sliders, changing speeds on it and obviously his sinker,” Flowers said. “Whenever we got runners on base he seemed to let us hit that one just enough to give him a nice double play.”
The win moved Cleveland into a virtual tie with Detroit atop the AL Central, while the Sox fell to a season-worst 15 games under .500. Despite the frustrations that come with losing 23 of 31, Sale was hopeful that the Sox still had something to play for.
“It’s frustrating losing for any team,” Sale said. “Any time you start losing a few in a row, you’re going to be frustrated. But that’s in any sport, any team. But our focus is on turning this around and heading in the right direction.”
Notes: Sox GM Rick Hahn said he hopes the team gets on a roll. If not, changes could occur as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Hahn said his staff has been receiving “a pretty healthy pace” of calls from other teams over the last few weeks. He indicated no player is untouchable for a possible deal ... 1B Paul Konerko remained out of the Sox lineup with a sore back for the sixth straight game. He said he hopes to play on Tuesday. The team has Monday off. ... Ramirez will eventually get a day off, Ventura said. The shortstop is the only player in the majors to play every inning this year. He has committed an AL-leading 14 errors.