While it may not have been a game that was circled on the schedule for either team, Chris Sale and the White Sox will be linked together forever, and every start the lanky lefty makes against his former team will be closely watched. Sale delivered a vintage performance against the team that traded him in December of 2016.
It may have been difficult for White Sox fans to look as Sale carved through a lineup that appeared as though getting a hit would be a tall task, let alone winning the game. Sox fans are very familiar with “Angry Sale” and what it means when the fiery pitcher feels as though he has been wronged. The telltale sign of an “Angry Sale” start is often his velocity, which was at a career high tonight for Sale. Sale hit 100 MPH multiple times tonight, and for the most part that spelled trouble for the White Sox offense.
It was obvious early on that the Sox were in for a duel with Sale. Sale quickly dispatched four Sox hitters via strikeout in the first two innings pitched. That could have spelled trouble for a White Sox team that has struggled immensely this year. But luckily a rejuvenated Dylan Covey was on the other side of the mound.
Covey, who many had written off after a problematic 2017 season, has found new life after being called up to the big league club in 2018. His resurgence has come to the tune of a 2.82 ERA entering the night, and tonight only helped that already impressive number. But it appeared as though Covey did not have the same magic in the first inning, when an Andrew Benintendi double and subsequent walk put Covey into a jam. He would promptly strikeout Xander Bogaerts before getting Mitch Moreland to ground into an inning ending double play. Covey would proceed to retire the following 11 batters in a row.
The game flew by as Covey and Sale went nearly pitch for pitch. Sale mixed his deadly fastball with his knockout slider, and Covey threw an effective two-seam fastball that froze hitters, complimenting it with a very nice slider of his own. While many would scoff at the idea of the two pitchers dueling each other, tonight it was the reality. It was almost as if the Sale and Covey had been selected in consecutive picks in the 2010 draft (they were). Believe it or not, it was Sale who would crack first.
Entering the seventh inning and on cruise control, a breakthrough seemed unlikely for a listless White Sox offense. But a Kevan Smith ground rule double and Yoan Moncada sacrifice set the stage for Trayce Thompson. Much like his brother has been doing against against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals, Trayce delivered. A poke single into left center provided the Sox with the only run they would need on the night.
Covey would take the mound again to begin the seventh, but a single by Xander Bogaerts ended Covey’s night, as Rick Renteria decided to let the righty leave with confidence from his dominating night. Covey’s final line: 6IP, 3H, 1BB, and 7 K’s.
After Covey’s departure it became a bullpen game, and much like Covey, they delivered. Jace Fry, Nate Jones and Joakim Soria combined to deliver three shutout innings as the White Sox drew first blood in their three game series against the Red Sox. Covey picked up his second win of the year as a reward for his premium effort.
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