Spare Parts: Chris Sale on better side of disappointing duel

Plus: A White Sox free agency preview, Don Cooper considers bullpenning, and the Angels drill managerial candidates

Back in 2012, Chris Sale locked horns with Clayton Kershaw for a made-for-TV stress test. Sale had thrown eight shutout innings against Houston the start before, lowering his ERA to 2.05 12 games into his first season as a starter. Kershaw won the first of his three Cy Youngs the previous season.

Sale came out overamped and was dinged for a first-inning run, which wasn’t surprising. The bigger shock was how the Sox offense fared against the Dodgers’ ace. Adam Dunn maintained his career-long dominance of Kershaw with a two-run blast in the first, and the Sox dinged him for single tallies in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

In the end, neither pitcher was redeemed. The Dodgers ambushed Sale for five sixth-inning runs, the result of one of Robin Ventura’s many, many too-long leashes. A 5-1 lead was squandered, the game went into extras, and when the smoked cleared, the winning pitcher of record was …

… Ronald Belisario.

Remembering this game, I didn’t have high hopes for Sale-Kershaw II, even though it represented perhaps the peakiest battle ever between two Game 1 starters in a World Series.

And it turns out high hopes wouldn’t have been met. Both pitchers looked underpowered. Sale ended up with another no-decision, although his team prevailed this time. Kershaw needed his defense a little more, and he received far less help. Neither pitcher recorded an out in the fifth.

I mainly paid attention to Sale, who came out striking out the first two batters during a scoreless first. The Dodgers did make him throw 21 pitches to get his first three outs, which ended up being the prevailing theme. Even when Sale looked impossible to handle — he got nine whiffs on just 33 sliders — the Dodgers worked deep counts. He struggled to top 93 after his pitch count eclipsed 70 in the fourth inning, and he only lasted five pitches into the fifth, giving up a leadoff single before departing.

Alex Cora called Sale’s stuff the best he’s had this postseason, which is probably true. When he came out working 94-96, I thought he might look all the way back. But after Matt Kemp put the first Los Angeles run on the board with a homer over the Green Monster on a 3-2 fastball, I wanted to see if Pissed Sale would show up in the Fall Classic. His next two fastballs were 93-94, and it’s hard to tell if that’s composure winning or his shoulder losing.

Sale’s line — 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR — looks like that of a third spring training game or rehab start more than Game 1 of the World Series. It was probably the former for his body and the latter for his brain. I imagine we’ll learn more about his condition after the end of the Series — although given Sale’s cagey public persona, maybe not — but regardless of how the performance is adjusted for health issues, it was enough to get the job done.

Spare Parts

James Fegan’s free agency preview is out, and the reviews are in:

“This is depressing!”
“There has to be a follow-up article coming out with better names!”
“This was a great article that made me laugh several times and also made me sad!

Don Cooper is watching shorter starts and bullpenning with interest, although his primary focus is still trying to get the most out of his young starters before the focus turns to using other pitchers to cover flaws.

Given the way Ausmus’ tenure in Detroit ended, he seemed to be in a similar boat as Robin Ventura as two managers with no experience who eventually became grossly exposed. But Ausmus is willing to give it another shot, and apparently analytics were a primary focus.

“The one thing I really enjoyed about being involved with the Angels this past year is I can take the numbers, and I can use my playing experience and wrap my brain around it and say, ‘OK, how does this apply on the dirt and on the grass?”’ Ausmus said. “That’s what managers have to do nowadays. They have to take those numbers, understand them — they don’t have to write the algorithms, but they need to understand them — and then apply it to the baseball player, to the baseball field. That’s the fun part for me. It’s easy to derive a number, but it’s a lot more difficult to apply the number.”

The Angels’ interview process included a strenuous exam that’s hard to imagine Mike Scioscia ever attempting:

And on “Talk Beisbol,” a Venezuela-based podcast, Vizquel said it caught him off-guard:

“I was surprised by a lot of the questions they asked me. There were a lot of sabermetrics involved in all of their questions. They’re apparently going far beyond what it means to be responsible and wise about the moves that you can make. They want someone who is very interested in the numbers and can weigh the percentages. […]

“Of course, you can handle some parts of them, but some of [the questions] surprise you,” Vizquel said. “It’s good to go through that experience so that you’re not caught off guard the next time that you have an interview and they talk about some of the terms that are used. But I’m very happy. I think I made a good impression with them, and from now on, I’m going to keep preparing, especially with the percentages and those things that they might ask in the future.”

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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GrinnellSteve

Is Omar Vizquel the next manager of the Sox?

metasox

I picture the White Sox written test asking whether he would make a good 4-star general

joewho112

I am picturing something like: if flights from Charlotte leave for Chicago every 2 hours, and each flight takes 3 hours to get to Chicago, how many months does it take to get Eloy Jimenez to get to Chicago? Answer: 8 months longer than it should

itaita

Fill in the blank: “The ____ to win.”

Eagle Bones

Name the best top hands of the last 50 years.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

Pick one: Have you previously been employed by the Chicago White Sox:
Yes ✅
No ❌

egib52

Sale had 7 Ks, and 2 BB. Not 7 BB.

lil jimmy

“Omar, How often do you wear a Magenta tie with your “Dusted Rose” suit?”

Omar, “63%”