By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — As expected, White Sox fans showed their appreciation for former ace left-hander Chris Sale when he took the mound for the Red Sox on Tuesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field. Like on Monday when a video tribute was shown for him, Sale received a classy ovation.
What was unexpected was the game’s final result. An anticipated pitcher’s duel between Sale and White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana never played out, as the Red Sox hammered six home runs in a 13-7 win that saw both aces get hit hard.
“It was different coming to the mound from the first-base side,” Sale said after improving to 6-2. “My guys allowed me to stink tonight. I was throwing a whole lot of pitches and not a lot of strikes. I was not very accurate at all. As for fans, I did everything I could here for the team the fans and the city. To get that same respect back was nice.”
The matchup failed to meet expectations, as Sale and Quintana were both off. Sale earned the win, going five innings and allowing six runs, five earned, on 10 hits and two walks while striking out nine. Quintana (2-7) was completely rocked in taking the loss lasting just 2 2/3 innings and allowing seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits, including three homers.
“I stunk tonight,” Sale said. “I did not do a whole lot to help us win. That says a lot about the guys behind me because we put up 13 runs. That was on a night when I didn’t do much.”
Sale has been the most dominating pitcher in baseball early in the season, as he entered Tuesday leading MLB in strikeouts and WHIP. He struck out the side in the first inning before the White Sox scored three runs in the bottom of the second after the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead in the top half.
“I was actually looking forward to this game,” Sale said. “I wanted to pitch against my buddies and old team. Q is like a brother to me. Going up against him was fun. The end result is not what either one of us expected. By no means am I happy this is over. I wished I enjoyed it more. It was something I was really looking forward to.
“It just ended up as a 7 o’clock batting practice session.”
Sale wasn’t surprised his former team put up a tough fight.
“If I had thrown the same pitches in any other ballpark to any team, I think the same results would have happened,” Sale said in discounting the home run-friendly, windy conditions Tuesday. “I was just off. I had a bad night. You just chalk it up to a bad night. I can’t say enough about the guys behind me.”
Sale and Quintana remain close friends, and Sale has offered advice to Quintana on how to deal with his name in trade talks so often.
“We text up and back all the time,” Sale said. “We even texted up and back tonight. It is tough (to hear rumors). It is tough for anybody in that position. He is as good as they get. Everybody who knows him knows that. I think he’s professional enough to put that aside. He just needs to carry on with what he needs to do.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.