Game 5: Sale’s high standard
Round 1 goes to the Cubs, who claimed a 5-1 victory over the White Sox before 10,327 at Camelback Ranch on Friday. There will be seven more chances for the White Sox to get even, but here’s a look at the highs and lows of this first battle.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: If Chris Sale gets this charged up over his first Cactus League start, one can only imagine the energy he’ll bring to the rotation during the 2012 regular season. The raw stuff is there for Sale, probably the best raw stuff on the White Sox staff.
Like any other pitcher, he’s working on location and building up arm strength as the regular season fast approaches. The endurance is especially important for Sale, who is moving from late-inning relief to the starting five.
And his anger over the two-out, nobody-on walk issued to Junior Lake in the second, which was followed by Edgar Gonzalez’s two-run home run, is reminiscent of the same high personal standard for no free passes held by new staff ace John Danks. Sale felt as if he’s figuring out his pregame routine as a starter, but wasn’t making excuses even in his Spring Training debut.
“It was what it was. You’re still working out kinks, but there’s no excuse at all,” Sale said. “You still got to pitch. But you’re still finding some things out and figuring some things out along the way. But at the end of the day, you still got to be better than that.”
Alejandro De Aza laid down a perfect bunt single in the first, while A.J. Pierzynski, back hitting in the two-hole, moved De Aza to third with a single to left in the first and sacrificed over two runners in the third. Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, both strongly in the closer’s mix, each pitched a scoreless frame.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Nate Jones, who pitched two scoreless innings during his Cactus League debut, gave up a Marlon Byrd homer in the sixth and a Steve Clevenger home run in the seventh. The White Sox also failed to score with the bases loaded and out in the third against Travis Wood and Randy Wells.
WHAT’S NEXT: It’s a rare doubleheader for the White Sox on Saturday, with both games taking place at Camelback Ranch. Dylan Axelrod gets the start in Game 1 against the Rangers, which will be an exclusive whitesox.com webcast starting at 2:05 p.m. CT, and Philip Humber starts the nightcap against the Dodgers at 8:05 p.m. CT. Brent Lillibridge will be leading off and playing second base against the Rangers in the early game.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Adrian Cardenas’ ninth-inning pop out to shortstop Ray Olmedo, as it completed two scoreless innings of relief for Nestor Molina. It was a tough first outing for Molina on Monday, allowing five runs on seven hits over 1 1/3 innings, but the right-hander gave up one hit and struck out two on Friday.
“You can hear him talk and doing things, taking charge, which is nice,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Molina. “To have that first outing and come back, with that impressive performance, it catches your eye.”
MOMENT TO FORGET: Sale’s 0-2 pitch to Gonzalez in the second. It got too much of the plate.