If it weren’t for pitch counts and pitchers being human beings, White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale and Milwaukee Brewers counterpart Zack Greinke likely still would be pitching at U.S. Cellular Field.
And the score would still be 0-0.
Alas, Sale made it through 8 shutout innings and was lifted after throwing 109 pitches. And Greinke, who always gave the Sox fits when he pitched in the AL Central for the Kansas City Royals, was gone after 9 shutout innings.
That left it up to the bullpens, and that’s where the Brewers finally were able to beat the White Sox on Friday night.
It was supposed to be a pitchers duel between Greinke, the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2009, and Sale, who should win a few of his own in the future if he can stay healthy.
The duo did not disappoint.
“I definitely knew whoever was going to score a run, it was going to be the difference in the game,” Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez said through a translator after Milwaukee emerged with a 1-0 victory in 10 innings. “It was unfortunate it wasn’t us.”
Sale did all he could, and Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth inning with the help of back-to-back standout defensive plays from third baseman Orlando Hudson.
In the 10th, White Sox reliever Jesse Crain took the loss after former Cub Aramis Ramirez led off with a double and pinch runner Nyjer Morgan came around to score on Rickie Weeks’ single.
“You’re looking at two guys that can pitch,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Sale and Greinke. “You just saw a great matchup and both of them just battling all the way.”
Sale knew who the mound opponent was but said that had nothing to do with his own performance.
“You try to come out and bring your best every time you go out, no matter who’s hitting, who’s pitching,” Sale said after lowering his ERA to 2.24. “Obviously, when a guy like that’s on the mound it’s going to be a little bit tighter and you’ve got to be a little bit sharper, but it’s still the game plan. You’ve got to go out there and pitch your game.”
Sale was at his best in the fifth inning when he struck out Cody Ransom and Martin Maldonado with Weeks at third base.
As for the White Sox, Gordon Beckham, Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski all singled off Greinke, but not one runner made it to second base.
“He was just locating well,” Paul Konerko said. “I got some good pitches to hit off him and just didn’t take good swings.”
Not many Milwaukee hitters took good swings off Sale, either.
“They can throw hard and all that, but just moving it in and out, back and forth, I think both of them were doing that all night,” Ventura said. “It’s not just one pitch that they have.
“I think Zack was doing the same thing; he was moving it in and out and back and forth when he needed to. He just had that ability, when a guy got on first, he’s inducing groundballs and getting double plays.”
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