Breaking: Ken Rosenthal broke the news that the A’s have traded for both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardizja of the Cubs. In exchange, the A’s are sending their best prospect – and one of the best in baseball – shortstop Addison Russell, pitcher Dan Straily, last year’s first round pick Billy McKinney and a player to be named later.
Once Russell’s name was put on the table, the Cubs had no other suitors. He’s that good.
As for the game tonight.
Well, sometimes there are just bad match-ups for a team. Chris Sale vs. the M’s is a bad matchup.
Yes, the Mariners came in as hot as any team in baseball, having won 10 of their last 12 games. Still even hours before the first pitch was thrown, Seattle’s chances of winning fell somewhere between “slim” and “stranger things have happened.”
Why were the odds so stacked against Seattle?
Well, Sale was starting and the Mariners had six left-handed hitters in their starting line-up.
Sale, a certain all-star, is tough enough as it is, coming into the game with a 7-1 record and 2.30 ERA. But he is death on left-handed hitters. Lefties had gotten just four hits – two each from Gregor Blanco of Texas and Josh Hamilton of Anaheim – in Sale’s 12 starts this season.
Most teams start right-handed heavy lineups against him. The Mariners don’t have that luxury.
With a lopsided, left-handed heavy roster, manager Lloyd McClendon had little choice but to play the lefties and hope that maybe Sale would have an off night.
He didn’t and the results were predictable.
“He’s one of the best in the league,” McClendon said. “Left-handed, right-handed, it really doesn’t make a difference. Our lefties for the most part have handled lefties pretty good. But this guy was special tonight.”
Mariners’ lefties did muster four hits off Sale to push the total to eight on the season. When mentioned that it might be a positive overall, McClendon looked perplexed since the team as a whole did little else against the White Sox ace.
“Ok?” was his response.
Sale tossed the White Sox’s first complete game of the season, giving up just one run on six hits while striking out 12 batters. It was his seventh complete game of the year.
It looked like it might be a complete game shutout.
They got their one run in the ninth thanks to a little help from left field Dayan Viciedo. Willie Bloomquist led off with a single. With one out, Viciedo misplayed Cano’s soft liner to left field. A possible catch or even a single was turned into a double as the ball got by him allowing Bloomquist to move to third. Corey Hart scored him with a sac fly to right.
That was the one run.
“Everybody knows that guy is filthy,” Cano said. “You have to take advantage of pitches he leaves the over the plate.”
Did he leave any over the plate?
“No, not really,” Cano said.
Otherwise, the only other scoring opportunity came in the sixth inning. Seattle got runners on first and second with no outs. But Sale struck out James Jones. The runners advanced into scoring position, but Sale struck out Cano on a nasty 2-2 slider to end the inning and the threat.
“The slider is the best pitch he has,” Cano said. “He confuses lefties because you don’t know when it’s a fastball or when it’s a slider. It’s really tough to see his pitches. But no excuses, he pitched great tonight and you just tip your cap.”
While Sale dominated, Mariners’ starter Roenis Elias struggled, giving up five runs in five innings and finding out why U.S. Cellular and its jet stream to left field can be such a miserable place to pitch in.
A pair of his Cuban counterparts did the bulk of the damage. Viciedo, a player the Mariners are rumored to be scouting for a possible trade, blasted a solo homer to left field in the fourth inning to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. It was his first of four hits on the night.
“I don’t really worry about that,” Viciedo said of the rumors through a translator. “That’s something I don’t control. I just worry about coming in and playing the game hard every day. I have no real concern with trade rumors or any of that stuff.”
In the fifth inning, rookie first baseman Jose Abreu continued his magical season, blasting a two-run homer – his 27th of the season – to highlight a four inning.
“Yes, it was a bad day,” Elias said through translator and bullpen coach Mike Rojas said. “It’s baseball.”
Elias also gave up a RBI double to Adam Eaton and a sacrifice fly to Gordon Beckham.
“He just made some bad pitches,” McClendon said. “He got the ball up.”