Sale struck out 12 St Louis Cardinals batters as his Chicago White Sox won 2-1 in 11 innings – the eighth game in succession he has reached double figures.
That mark has only previously been achieved by Pedro Martinez with the 1999 Boston Red Sox. Martinez won that season’s American League Cy Young Award, given to the league’s best pitcher, and later this month he is to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and have his number 45 jersey retired by the Red Sox.
It was only St Louis’ 24th loss in 75 games this season – the Kansas City Royals’ 44-30 record is the next-best among the 30 teams and they also lost, 4-0 to the Houston Astros as Dallas Kuechel pitched eight scoreless innings and George Springer hit a two-run homer.
Kansas lead the American League Central by 4.5 games from the Minnesota Twins, who beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-5, with the Detroit Tigers a further game back after losing 5-4 in a 14-inning marathon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The tightly-packed AL East showed little sign of becoming any clearer as the last-placed Red Sox moved to within six games of the summit by beating the Toronto Blue Jays for the second night in succession, 4-3.
The top three teams remain locked together after the New York Yankees went down 2-1 to the Los Angeles Angels, the Baltimore Orioles lost 8-6 to the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays were beaten 6-2 by the Cleveland Indians. Toronto are one game behind.
National League West leaders the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 in 10 innings, Howie Kendrick’s homer breaking the tie, while nearest pursuers the San Francisco Giants were beaten 5-3 by the Miami Marlins with home runs from Dee Gordon and Justin Bour. Gordon’s homer relied on his blistering speed as the shot did not clear the outfield wall.
The Washington Nationals moved two wins clear of the New York Mets in the NL East with a 6-1 win over divisional rivals the Atlanta Braves, Clint Robinson’s home run rounding off a four-run first inning while Jordan Zimmermann pitched 7 2/3 scoreless frames.
The Mets went down 1-0 to the Chicago Cubs as Matt Szczur’s double scored Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks pitched six strong innings.
The Seattle Mariners beat the San Diego Padres 5-0, the Colorado Rockies beat the Oakland Athletics 2-1 and the Milwaukee Brewers were 4-3 winners over the Philadelphia Phillies.