ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale put on a dazzling display of pitching Monday, striking out a career-high 15 batters, becoming the new Tropicana Field record holder and taking over second on the franchise's all-time single-game strikeout leaderboard.
However, there were questions for manager Robin Ventura about leaving him in for as long as he did. Sale threw a season-high 115 pitches, and considering the questions about moving him out of the bullpen into the rotation, it had become a topic of debate. Ventura stood by the decision and even said he would have considered leaving him in longer if he was aware of the club's 16-strikeout record, assuming Sale still felt fine.
"I get the question, but most of it is how he was throwing," Ventura said. "It's just the way he's going about it as far as the pitches that he's throwing, how he's getting in and out of innings, how he's feeling, things like that. He has certain kinds of sliders, how many of them he throws that kind of put the extreme torque on there. We monitor all that stuff and how he's doing. I don't have any question about it."
Ventura said the coaching staff had a pitch count in mind pregame for Sale, and his final total was within five or 10 pitches of that number. Sale had thrown 100 pitches or more in all but two of his starts, and Ventura said there was no noticeable change in his mechanics or stuff toward the end of Monday's outing.
In most cases, like that of injured lefty John Danks, the coaching staff becomes aware of changes in mechanics, mannerisms or reactions. But they didn't see any warning signs from Sale, and he gave them no reason to worry as he kept ringing up batters all afternoon.
"You probably leave him in there longer if we were sitting here thinking about him getting some kind of record or anything," Ventura said. "It was more of where he was at, how he was feeling and what he was throwing. He's become better at getting through innings."