Updated at 12:25 a.m., Aug. 23, 2012
CHICAGO (AP) — Chris Sale’s pitches were giving the New York Yankees fits from the outset. Even his catcher was surprised by the way the ball was moving.
“I’ll call one and he’ll throw it 85 (mph) and then next one will be 94. One cuts, one sinks, one goes straight. It’s just kind of a guessing game for me out there also,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said after Sale struck out 13 in 7 2-3 innings Wednesday night, pitching the Chicago White Sox to a 2-1 victory and a three-game sweep.
Sale allowed three hits, one a homer by Derek Jeter, in 7 2-3 innings to get his 15th victory. He left to a rousing ovation after 109 pitches.
“I felt great. Obviously I wanted to stay in there but late in game like that and when (the) pitch count gets up, adrenaline will get you through it. You want to finish the job you started,” he said.
The 23-year-old Sale, who was sent to the bullpen for one game this season before returning to the rotation, agreed that his performance was perhaps the best of his young career.
“If it’s not, it’s up there for sure,” said Sale, a first-round draft pick in 2010. “That’s one to build on. Just try to use it for my next outing.”
Sale (15-4) outpitched New York’s Phil Hughes, who went seven innings and gave up Alex Rios’ go-ahead homer in the sixth. Addison Reed worked the ninth for his 23rd save in 26 chances.
“He’s funky. He’s got a funky motion. He’s especially tough on lefties. He throws hard,” Jeter said of Sale. “His fastball moves, a lot of off-speed pitches, which is surprising considering how hard he throws. He can overpower you when he needs to, but we didn’t get much going off of him at all.”
New York’s loss and Tampa Bay’s victory over Kansas City reduced the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to three games, their smallest since before play on June 26.
“That’s what you go through. The season isn’t over after 120 (games), it’s not over after 140, you have to play 162,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The win gave the White Sox their first three-game sweep of the Yankees at home since 1991, the year U.S. Cellular Field (then known as new Comiskey Park) opened.
“They just beat us. Flat out. Today, Chris Sale was pretty incredible,” New York first baseman Mark Teixeira said.
Jeter hit his 13th homer to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth. But Rios responded in the bottom half with his 20th homer to put Chicago ahead.
Hughes (12-11) allowed five hits and two runs with two walks and five strikeouts.
Chicago scored first for the first time in the series when Gordon Beckham doubled, Dewayne Wise reached on a bunt single and Kevin Youkilis hit a sacrifice fly in the third.
Notes: Jeter acknowledged that it takes extra time now to get ready and at age 38 he’s making it work with a standout season that seen him climb to No. 11 on the all-time hits list. He has also surpassed 250 career homers. “You got to get here a little earlier and stay a little longer. I’m sure that applies to most people who are standing here right now,” Jeter said Wednesday. “I think that’s normal, that’s for everyone. My fifth year wasn’t like my first year, just like this year isn’t like five years ago.” … Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte (fractured left ankle) threw off of flat ground on Wednesday, and is scheduled to throw again on Saturday. Pettitte said he is building toward getting on a mound, but is “not quite there yet.” There is no timetable for his return. … Adam Dunn of the White Sox struck out in the third for a club-record 178th time, breaking the mark he set last season. Dunn fanned a career-high 199 times in 2010 with the Nationals.
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