Chris Sale strikes out 12 Twins in eight dominant innings to win
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Sale credits his offensive support for helping him settle into a good rhythm on the mound.
It might actually be the other way around, with Sale's dominating starts taking pressure off the Chicago White Sox hitters.
Either way, it's working.
Sale tied a season high with 12 strikeouts in eight dominant innings, Alexei Ramirez hit his 10th homer, and the White Sox beat Minnesota 7-0 on Saturday night for their third straight win over the Twins.
Sale (10-1) scattered five hits -- all singles -- and became the first White Sox starter to win 10 of his first 11 decisions in a season since Mark Buehrle in 2005.
"I think this is probably the fastest I've seen him work," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Just getting the ball, not a lot of shaking off or anything like that. He was just throwing. And he was throwing everything, too."
Sale had a double-digit strikeout total for the 15th time in his career, moving him into a tie for second on the team's all-time list with Juan Pizarro. Sale's 1.88 ERA is the lowest mark among qualified pitchers in the majors, and he's allowed just three earned runs in July.
The White Sox, fourth in the AL Central at 51-54, are still longshots to make the playoffs. However, they have won seven of their last 10 games and can sweep the Twins in a four-game series for the first time since 2008 before traveling to first-place Detroit.
"We've got all the right pieces in all the right places," Sale said. "It's just a matter of stringing some wins together. Obviously we're all very comfortable with each other and we have confidence in each other to go out there and produce and to win games."
Chicago had its way against Twins starter Logan Darnell (0-1) in his first major league start. A day after being recalled to fill in for injured Kyle Gibson, Darnell allowed seven runs and 11 hits while striking out seven in five innings.
"I really wasn't nervous," Darnell said. "If anything I was just trying to focus on what my plan was and I thought I stayed with it, even though it didn't really pan out the way I wanted."
With the White Sox leading 2-0 in the fifth and Gordon Beckham on first, Ramirez hit his second homer in two nights when his drive off a changeup from Darnell hit off the foul pole in left field. The White Sox led off the next inning with four straight hits -- including a run-scoring double by Tyler Flowers and an RBI single by Alejandro De Aza -- to chase Darnell.
"It's not really how you picture it," Darnell said of his first big-league start.
Beckham's sacrifice fly to center off Ryan Pressly scored Flowers to made it 7-0. Daniel Webb pitched a scoreless ninth for Chicago.
The Twins are 2-7 since the All-Star break.
"It's tough to play from behind," said Chris Colabello, who went 0 for 4. "Especially you lose a couple in row, you get behind again and all of a sudden negative thoughts went through your mind and it's tough to fight those sometimes."
--White Sox OF Jose Abreu singled in the ninth to push his hitting streak to 16 games. He's hit safely in 34 of his last 35 games overall.
--Twins GM Terry Ryan said Gibson (back) should start Tuesday at Kansas City.
--Twins 1B Joe Mauer (strained oblique) took grounders during batting practice, but did not take any swings. Manager Ron Gardenhire also said RHP Ricky Nolasco (elbow) is expected to throw three or four bullpen sessions over the next week.
--White Sox RHP Scott Carroll (4-6), who is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his last three starts, makes his second career appearance against Minnesota when Chicago goes for the four-game sweep on Sunday. Minnesota sends Yohan Pino (1-3) to the mound to make his seventh start of the season.© The Associated Press