CHICAGO (AP) – Chris Sale’s assessment was brutally honest.
“We didn’t lose. I lost,” he said.
The former Florida Gulf Coast University star was knocked out in the fourth inning and the Chicago White Sox lost 6-2 to Josh Tomlin and the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
Adam Eaton hit his fifth career leadoff homer and Jose Abreu broke out of a slump with three hits, but Chicago was unable to overcome a rare off night for Sale. The AL Central-leading White Sox have dropped eight of 11.
“They had some good at-bats against him,” manager Robin Ventura said. “They got to a guy that’s been rolling along. He was up there velocity-wise, it was uncharacteristic for him. It just seemed like everything was a little harder than normal.”
Tomlin pitched eight innings of two-run ball to become the first Indians starter to reach 7-0 since Dennis Martinez won his first nine decisions in 1995. Sale was charged with six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings, ending his bid to become the first pitcher to win his first 10 starts in a season since Andy Hawkins for San Diego in 1985.
It was baseball’s first matchup of 6-0 or better pitchers since 1988, and only the fourth time in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“The past doesn’t matter,” Sale said. “It’s right now. Everything is about right now and nine wins didn’t get me anything tonight.”
Chris Gimenez homered for Cleveland, which had lost three straight before Monday’s 5-1 victory at Chicago in the second game of a doubleheader. Jose Ramirez walked twice and scored twice, and Mike Napoli drove in two runs.
Sale (9-1) struck out two in each of the first two innings and then retired the first two batters of the third. But Ramirez followed with a 10-pitch walk, and the ace left-hander unraveled from there.
Napoli had a two-run triple and Juan Uribe added an RBI single on the ninth pitch of his at-bat, helping Cleveland to a 3-1 lead. After Tomlin (7-0) quickly retired the White Sox in order in the third, Gimenez led off the fourth with a long drive to left for his second homer and Lindor’s one-out RBI single chased Sale from his shortest start of the season.
“In the third inning we did a really good job with the pitch count and we scored,” manager Terry Francona said, “and then we followed it up with more, which is big. I mean we made him work.”
Sale allowed six runs in his previous five starts combined. He walked four after issuing one walk over his previous three starts, including a streak of consecutive complete games without a single free pass coming into Tuesday.
It was more than enough support for Tomlin, who allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one. The right-hander has issued just six walks in 51 innings this season.
“I was able to throw strikes and mix it up enough to where they put the ball in play and the guys made the plays,” Tomlin said.