ST. PETERSBURG -- The trade proposed by Chris Sale following Tampa Bay's 3-0 victory Saturday night at Tropicana Field is not one being worked on by White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.
It certainly wouldn't be allowed by Major League Baseball. But Sale, who was named an All-Star for a second straight season approximately 30 minutes before first pitch, wanted to move personal glory in exchange for team success.
"Yeah, I definitely would trade [the All-Star selection] in for a win today," said a frustrated Sale.
Sale's 2013 All-Star honor came via a selection by American League and Detroit manager Jim Leyland. And as he has done all season, the 24-year-old southpaw proved Leyland to be a very astute judge of talent.
Yes, Sale is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Just don't look at Sale's 5-8 overall record as a basis for that analysis.
Despite allowing just two earned runs over seven innings and 118 pitches, while striking out nine and walking just one, Saturday marked Sale's sixth straight loss and seventh start without a win, leaving him empty on the plus side since May 17 at Anaheim. He has fanned 62 over the 49 1/3 innings during this losing streak and has watched his ERA rise from 2.53 to just 2.78.
His run of futility seems next to impossible, bordering on unimaginable, where a pitcher with Sale's electric stuff is concerned. Factor in the White Sox scoring just nine runs over those seven starts and it becomes a little easier to understand Sale's lack of success.
"He's fantastic," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon of Sale. "You talk about his stuff but that guy really competes and he's got great stuff. He has a great feel for a young guy. He's real good."
"Those are six games we should win when he holds a team like he does each and every time he goes out there and we don't score any runs for him," White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn said. "I look at that as six games, or at least four or five, we should win."
Tampa Bay (48-40) scored two runs off Sale in the second inning, with Luke Scott doubling home one and Desmond Jennings' groundout scoring a second. Third baseman Conor Gillaspie robbed Jennings of a hit, just as he did in the first inning, but Gillaspie's error on Jose Lobaton's slow roller to third also contributed to the scoring.
Scott's double down the right-field line marked the first extra-base hit for a left-handed hitter off Sale this year in 76 at-bats. Sale jumped ahead at 1-2 in the count before Scott pulled a changeup on a 3-2 offering and brought home Yunel Escobar.
"You want to make sure you take advantage of every situation where you can drive in a run," Scott said. "It's going to be slim pickings for the night, and it was for both sides."
"Good job by him, and he pitches his guts out," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sale. "When you are not getting any runs, it seems like it's wasted."
Ventura's crew had prime chances to score in both the second and third innings against Matt Moore (12-3). But as has been the case for much of this season, they did nothing with them.
Jeff Keppinger opened the second with a double to left, but he was stranded there as Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo struck out. Gordon Beckham's infield single extended the frame, but Tyler Flowers' popout to first closed out the rally with runners on the corners.
Moore hit Alejandro De Aza in the right wrist to start the third and then walked Alexei Ramirez on four pitches, with both runners moving up a base on a wild pitch with nobody out. Alex Rios followed with a line drive to third that was hit right at Evan Longoria, but De Aza strayed too far off the base and Longoria raced to third to double him off. Adam Dunn's deep fly to left was caught by Sam Fuld and left the White Sox scoreless.
"I didn't kill them by any means, but I felt like I put good wood on them," said Dunn, who also flew out deep to left against Joel Peralta to end the eighth. "They just didn't go."
At 34-50 overall, 15-30 on the road and 13 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central, the White Sox have hit a new low-water mark in both areas. That mark seems to sink on an almost daily basis for the South Siders.
Yet, frustration can't become finger-pointing or malaise in the mind of Sale, who has as much reason to complain as anyone on the team.
"Yeah, it's a mental grind and especially when you go through something like this," Sale said. "It's even more you got to be on your 'A' game.
"You can't get down on yourself or down on your team. Keep plugging along. I know that it's part of the game. It's not the first time this has ever happened. We are just focused on turning it around and getting right."