CHICAGO (AP) — Chris Sale is a dominant power pitcher with the potential for a double-digit strikeout performance every time he takes the mound.
But the Chicago White Sox ace said his focus against the San Diego Padres on Sunday was being economical.
"The philosophy is 'on or out in three,' so I was just trying to fill the zone with quality strikes and go from there," he said.
Sale pitched a two-hitter, Paul Konerko homered and the White Sox posted 4-1 victory to avoid being swept.
Sale (5-0) struck out nine, walked none and threw 100 pitches in the complete game performance that lasted just 2:08.
He froze Everth Cabrera for a called strike three to end the game, and retired the final 14 batters.
Sale has allowed just two earned runs in his last 25 innings spanning four starts, and has a 1.59 ERA overall. The lefty was on the disabled list in late April because of a strained muscle in his pitching arm.
Because of that, Sale was on a pitch count — the White Sox wouldn't say how many — but he never was in danger of being removed because he was so efficient.
"I think the rain-shortened start and then pitching on his regular turn, he was fresh," San Diego manager Bud Black said, referring to Sale's last start on Tuesday when he went just three innings.
"We haven't seen him during the regular season, but you can see why this guy's one of the best pitchers in the American League: deceptive delivery, good velocity, really good change, good breaking ball," he said. "He had it working today."
Konerko also doubled and drove in three runs as the White Sox won for the eighth time in 13 games. The veteran slugger has been playing every day with rookie Jose Abreu on the disabled list, but that is scheduled to end Monday when Abreu is activated.
"I'm just trying to chip in," Konerko said. "I'm here to have good days against left-handed pitching like that, and you try to do your best on the other days when you have to play like it's been. It's been a bit of a whirlwind the past couple weeks getting back in there and playing, but it's good to have it today with the way (Sale) pitched."
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