The Mariners had a chance to extend a number of impressive streaks Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, but Chicago lefty Chris Sale rendered their bats inept in pitching the White Sox to an easy 7-1 victory. The Mariners managed six hits off Sale, fanned 12 times, didn’t walk once, and were DOA after five innings when Chicago pounded Seattle starter Roenis Elias for four runs.
The Mariners (47-39) saw their four-game winning streak snapped, their six-game road winning streak go poof, and also fell six back of Oakland in the AL West race. Had the Mariners not scored on Corey Hart’s sacrifice fly in the ninth, they would have sustained their 10th blanking, one shy of the 11 they suffered last season.
The Mariners couldn’t do anything with Sale, who delivered a dominating performance with his second career complete game. In addition to striking out a season-high tying 12 times, Seattle hitters went 2-for-8 with five strikeouts against Sale with men on base and 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Seattle is 4-18 at U.S. Cellular Field since 2009.
Sale mixed a virtually unhittable fastball that topped out at 98 mph with an effective change. If not for a Willie Bloomquist single and Robinson Cano double in the ninth that was misplayed by left fielder Dayan Viciedo, Sale also would have posted his second career shutout.
“He’s one of the best in the league, left or right, doesn’t matter,” said Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon. “This guy was special tonight. You tip your hat to him. He found his groove early and was nasty. That’s baseball. Sale was tough. That’s the way it goes.”
Elias found himself locked in a duel with Sale through three innings, but surrendered a homer to Viciedo, who went 4-for-4, leading off the fourth. Elias averaged 14 pitches per inning before Viciedo’s blast. But in the deciding fifth, he was forced to throw 30 to get through the frame.
Elias allowed a leadoff single to Moises Sierra and then plunked Tyler Flowers. Adam Eaton’s double to deep right scored Sierra and Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice fly brought home Flowers. Jose Abreu then cracked a two-run homer, his 27th, jacking Chicago’s lead to 5-0.
That ended the night for Elias (7-7, 4.19), who permitted seven hits and five earned runs while striking out six while walking one.
“He (Elias) just made some bad pitches,” said McClendon. “He left the ball up. He needed to keep the ball down and make better pitches.”
The Mariners had an opportunity for a big inning in the sixth when, with one out, Michael Saunders and Willie Bloomquist singled to right and moved to second and third, respectively, on Sale’s wild pitch. But Sale fanned James Jones and Robinson Cano to end the threat.
Paul Konerko’s two-run home run in the eighth, off Charlie Furbush, marked the 32nd of his career against the Mariners.
Bloomquist, batting leadoff, had two of Seattle’s six hits, moving his average to .278. But Jones, batting behind him, fanned three times. Cano, Saunders and Dustin Ackley fanned twice each as the Mariners produced an in-game batting average of .193.
NOTES: Corey Hart, activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday, started at DH Friday and went 0-for-3 with an RBI. . . Rookie left hander James Paxton threw his third bullpen session prior to Friday’s game and is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday when the Mariners return to Seattle. Paxton has been on the DL since April 8 with a strained left lat muscle. He will probably be sent out on a minor league rehab assignment following the All-Star break.
NEXT: The series; second game is at 11:10 a.m., PT Saturday. Felix Hernandez (10-2, 2.10) goes for his 11th victory and will oppose LHP Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.44).