- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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The White Sox maintained their one-game lead in the AL Central over Detroit, which defeated Cleveland Friday. Sale baffled the Twins, striking out five without a walk and throwing 95 pitches on five days rest.
“He was really ready to go today,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He has changed. He doesn’t have to throw 95-96 [mph] every pitch. Everything has a little bit of subtleness to it. It will move, it will sink, it will run. He can still get [the speed] up there, but he just has a good feel.”
The Sox offense chipped away at Twins starter Esmerling Vasquez for three runs in 5 2/3 innings. They added on two more in the seventh off of the Twins bullpen, when Kevin Youkilis hit his 19th home run and an Alex Rios hit an RBI single. Dewayne Wise's sacrifice fly in the ninth capped the scoring. The Sox had been under scrutiny of late for not manufacturing any runs beyond the home run ball.
“Youk messed it up with a homer,” Ventura said. “It was nice to scratch across some runs. We had a situation where we could have gotten more in, but we weren’t sitting back just relying on home runs.”
Sale once again mixed in a variety of breaking balls and an occasional well-placed fastball, topping out at 93 mph. The new Sox ace is 11-3 after team losses this season.
“I felt good out there, I felt loose,” Sale said. “Things just went well tonight.”
The win was Sale’s 17th of the season, tying him for the league lead with Jerod Weaver and David Price. Postseason awards are not on Sale’s mind at this point of the pennant race.
“That is what it is,” Sale said. “I don’t pay attention to anything like [awards] . If you start thinking of things like that you can get a little selfish and what is really is important slips away.”
Sale is now 3-0 against the Twins with a 0.90 ERA in 2012.
Chris Sale won his 17th game in a stellar first year as a starter.