ST. PETERSBURG -- Both Luke Scott and Sam Fuld connected for run-scoring singles off Chris Sale during Saturday's 3-0 Rays victory. Their success didn't diminish their respect for one of the American League's leaders in almost every starting pitching category but wins and win percentage.
"If you look at his numbers, it doesn't inspire confidence. Unfortunately, I did look at those numbers before the game," Fuld said. "In some ways, you just simplify your approach and shorten up with a guy who has outstanding stuff like that. Luke had the same sort of approach."
Scott's run-scoring double as part of a two-run second became the first extra-base hit for a left-handed hitter in 76 at-bats against Sale this season. Scott was not surprised.
"He's really, really tough on lefties," Scott said. "He's tough on righties, too, but with his arm angle for lefties, it gives a lot of trouble, and then it's the combination of stuff and the ability to control different parts of the zone with it. He locates his fastball, his slurve, his changeup, too.
"As a hitter, it's something that you're not used to. He throws it out of the same release point. If he didn't do that, you would be able to pick up on it, but you're getting ready for anywhere from 93 to 97 [mph] and it makes it tough to stay back on that breaking ball."
That respect for Sale extends beyond the playing field and into the dugout, as it was AL and Detroit manager Jim Leyland who picked Sale for his second straight All-Star appearance. Sale can prove Leyland's pick accurate, making Sale the seventh pitcher in White Sox history to be selected for consecutive All-Star squads, when he faces the Tigers on Thursday in Detroit.
"Yeah, hopefully, I don't thank him with a win. Hopefully I can turn things around," Sale said. "It makes me feel good that's for sure -- especially one of our rivals in our division.
"I've got all the respect in the world for [Leyland]. I've always enjoyed his competition and playing against that team. I'm very thankful for him doing that for me."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.