When Chris Sale pitches for the White Sox, it's usually a game worth watching.
Before Sale took the mound Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field against the Orioles, Baltimore broadcaster and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer raved about the Sox' ace.
"At the hotel this morning I was looking at the stats," said Palmer, who was inducted into Cooperstown in 1990. "Everybody knows how good (Dodgers starter) Clayton Kershaw is, and he has a 0.84 WHIP (walks/hit per innings pitched). Sale has a 0.88 WHIP, and he's in the American League where the pitchers don't hit.
"I started thinking, what would it take to get a guy like that in a trade? He's the kind of guy you want starting Game 1 in the playoffs."
Sale has quickly emerged as one of the most dominant starters in the game, but the left-hander was off a bit in Monday night's 8-2 loss to the Orioles, who are running first in the AL East.
Sale (10-3) lasted just 6 innings and allowed 3 runs on 8 hits while walking two and striking out eight.
"I felt good," he said. "I felt loose. Just kind of sporadic. I felt like maybe early in the game it was fine, but there late it was just throwing a lot of pitches, giving up hits, and getting deep into counts and giving up hits.
"Obviously I want to do better, but sometimes it's how it works out. Just work hard for the next one. Do better for myself and for my team."
Sale exited trailing 3-0, but the White Sox finally got to Baltimore starter Bud Norris (11-7) in the seventh inning.
Norris hit Alejandro De Aza with a pitch leading off the inning and Alexei Ramirez followed with a double.
After Jose Abreu lined out and Adam Dunn struck out, Avisail Garcia went opposite field again, and De Aza and Ramirez both came home on his single to right field.
That brought Conor Gillaspie to the plate, and he appeared to give the Sox a 4-3 lead with a deep drive to right.
But Nick Markakis ran the ball down and lept over the fence to rob Gillaspie of a 2-run homer.
"I thought I had a shot at it the whole way," Markakis said. "I just positioned myself where I thought the ball was going to land and I was just going after it and doing anything I could to catch it, especially with the situation of the game."
It still was a close game at that point, but Sox relievers Ronald Belisario (6.11 ERA), Eric Surkamp (6.91 ERA) and Matt Lindstrom (5.57) combined to yield 5 runs on 4 hits, 1 walk and a hit batter in the eighth inning.
"The one thing we need to do is pitch inside a little bit more," Lindstrom said after giving up 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk without retiring a batter. "Guys are diving out over the plate for stuff when we do try to put them away. They see that because we're not throwing the ball inside enough late in the game."