ST. PETERSBURG -- White Sox left-hander Chris Sale put on a dazzling display of pitching Monday, striking out a career-high 15 batters, becoming the new Tropicana Field record holder and taking over second on the franchise's all-time single-game strikeout leaderboard.
However, there were questions for manager Robin Ventura about leaving him in for as long as he did. Sale threw a season-high 115 pitches, and considering the questions about moving him out of the bullpen into the rotation, it had become a topic of debate. Ventura stood by the decision and even said he would have considered leaving him in longer if he was aware of the club's 16-strikeout record, assuming Sale still felt fine.
"I get the question, but most of it is how he was throwing," Ventura said. "It's just the way he's going about it as far as the pitches that he's throwing, how he's getting in and out of innings, how he's feeling, things like that. He has certain kinds of sliders, how many of them he throws that kind of put the extreme torque on there. We monitor all that stuff and how he's doing. I don't have any question about it."
Ventura said the coaching staff had a pitch count in mind pregame for Sale, and his final total was within five or 10 pitches of that number. Sale had thrown 100 pitches or more in all but two of his starts, and Ventura said there was no noticeable change in his mechanics or stuff toward the end of Monday's outing.
In most cases, like that of injured lefty John Danks, the coaching staff becomes aware of changes in mechanics, mannerisms or reactions. But they didn't see any warning signs from Sale, and he gave them no reason to worry as he kept ringing up batters all afternoon.
"You probably leave him in there longer if we were sitting here thinking about him getting some kind of record or anything," Ventura said. "It was more of where he was at, how he was feeling and what he was throwing. He's become better at getting through innings."
Ventura respects Matsui's skills, presence
ST. PETERSBURG -- As manager Robin Ventura sat down to address a small group of media Tuesday afternoon in the visitor's dugout at Tropicana Field, one of his former teammates was surrounded by a horde of about 50 recorders, notepads and cameras in the home dugout.
Hideki Matsui was called up by the Rays on Tuesday, and Ventura has experienced first-hand the kind of attention the Japanese slugger receives. The two played together in 2003 with the Yankees, and Ventura had nothing but praise to offer about Matsui.
"There was a lot of pressure, and you can see that crowd today," Ventura said. "He's had that from Day 1, but he knows how to go about it. He's a great teammate. He understands with bringing all of that, what it means and some of the hassles and everything that comes with it. Great team guy."
Ventura, 44, also admired the 37-year-old Matsui's ability at the plate. He will likely face the White Sox the final two games of this series, and he was in the starting lineup Tuesday night, batting sixth and playing left field.
"He's a good player, we know that. He's a professional hitter. He does everything well. He's just older, that's all," Ventura said. "He's still a good player and knows how to hit. He's smart.
"You don't want him coming up with guys on base and two outs, I know that."
Third to first
Manager Robin Ventura had only this to offer about left-hander John Danks, on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder soreness: "He's doing fine. He hasn't done enough to really simulate pitching, but he feels fine."
Entering Tuesday night, the White Sox had homered in 14 straight games, their longest streak since a 15-game stretch from April 21 to May 4, 2004.
Adam Dunn's two-run homer in the sixth inning Monday was his 16th of the season, eighth to give the White Sox the lead and fourth off a left-handed pitcher.
After picking up his fifth save of the season Monday, Addison Reed has made 10 straight scoreless appearances on the road, spanning 8 2/3 innings.