Chris Sale has found the friendly surroundings of U.S Cellular Field to be a calming influence during his first season as a starting pitcher.
After winning his 16th game on Saturday afternoon, the Chicago White Sox's top winner reflected on his 9-2 record at home.
“It’s always nice pitching at home in front of your home crowd,” Sale said after defeating the Kansas City Royals, 5-4. “ I can’t really pinpoint any one thing but that is how it is.”
Sale gave the Sox their second quality start in three games. He allowed just one run on five hits in his six innings of work. Six innings appears to be the new standard for a successful outing at this point of the season.
“He worked so hard early on that we were feeling it was going to be six (innings) anyway,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He had to throw so many pitches through the first three innings.”
The Central division leaders will take any kind of win they can get coming off of a streak where they had lost eight of their last 11 games to Kansas City. The Royals had defeated the Sox in six straight head-to-head matchups and were sending lefty Bruce Chen to the mound on Saturday. Chen has had his way the White Sox, winning his last five of six decisions against them.
“I think the times we have done well against him have mostly come in this ballpark,” said Paul Konerko, who had one of three home runs the Sox hit off of Chen. “I think personal stats against a guy or a team is more about how you catch a guy during a season. If it happens a couple of seasons in a row, all off the sudden the numbers get warped.”
The White Sox are 54-22 when they get a quality start. That number alone makes starts like Sale’s on Saturday crucial in the final push for the playoffs.
“There are a hundred and sixty two of them,” said Tyler Flowers, who hit a three-run home run in support of Sale’s win. “Every (game ) is just as important as the first one. That’s how you have to look at it. You have to keep a level head and know that there are 24 left now -- long way to go still.”
Home cooking has worked well for the entire team, not just Sale . The White Sox have won 10 of their last 12 at U.S Cellular Field.