Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale had been nearly untouchable over his past four starts, allowing only four total hits in 25 innings. He wasn't far from it again on Saturday in Anaheim, as he allowed only two hits over his first seven innings against a capable Los Angeles Angels lineup. Unfortunately, he ran into a wall in the eighth inning, at least figuratively, and then he ran into Mike Trout, who capped a five-run rally with a game-tying grand slam.
It was about as dramatic a sports moment as you'll see in early June. Well, aside from California Chrome's failed attempt to win the Triple Crown and the entirety of both overtimes in Game 2 of the NHL Finals. But it was right up there with both of them.
Here's another look and listen from Hawk Harrelson's perspective, which naturally only heightens the drama.
The swiftness and completeness of the turnaround was very surprising. After allowing a first inning walk to Trout, which was followed by an error on third baseman Conor Gillaspie, Sale didn't allow another baserunner until Josh Hamilton's bloop single leading off the fifth inning. That, by the way, was the first hit by a left-handed batter against Sale all season long.
It was a virtual pitching clinic. For every decent Angels swing, there were five that looked completely disjointed and off balance. If they made contact, it appeared to be by accident only. Sale was that good, but once his pitch count neared 100, he lost steam. The Angels greeted him in the eighth inning with four consecutive hits, which set the stage for Trout's dramatics.
Going into that game-changing at-bat, Sale was pushing 110 pitches and probably should have been pulled for a fresh arm, but he didn't want to back off from the challenge of facing Trout with the lead on the line.
Chris Sale on facing Mike Trout: "Without a doubt I wanted to be in there. I wanted to be in there." #WhiteSox
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) June 8, 2014
Manager Robin Ventura figured it was his best matchup as well, so he rolled with his tiring ace and paid the price. And it's difficult to be critical of the decision given the competitive nature of Sale, who immediately took his frustrations out with a bat in the tunnel.
''When you put as much effort, and kind of your heart and soul into a game and it unravels like that, more than anything I'm just kind of disappointed,'' Sale said. ''I threw a good pitch to a better hitter, and things happen.''
The Angels would tack on one more run on Erick Aybar's two-out RBI single later in the inning, and then held on to win 6-5 after Ernesto Frieri closed it out in the ninth. If there was such a thing as momentum in baseball, this is one of those games that launches the Angels and demoralizes the White Sox into a losing streak. Fortunately for Chicago, it isn't, and all could be forgotten before they board their plane on Sunday night.
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