Sale presents latest challenge for Orioles

The Orioles get a break today from opposing Cy Young Award winners. The streak ends at two with Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander David Price.

It’s telling when left-hander Chris Sale represents a break.

Sale has finished third, fourth, fifth twice and sixth in Cy Young voting in his eight years in the majors. He’s 6-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 0.910 WHIP in his 11 starts this season spanning 78 innings, and his 110 strikeouts lead the majors.

Sale is averaging 1.8 walks and 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Right-handers are hitting .197 against him and left-handers are hitting .200.

Sounds like loads of fun for the Orioles. But, hey, at least he hasn’t won a Cy Young.

Machado-Showalter-Argue-Sidebar.jpgThe first three games of the series have been drama-free, with no signs of retaliation. The bad blood seems to have dried. But no one in the home clubhouse has forgotten how Sale zipped a fastball behind Manny Machado’s knees at Fenway Park, or his reaction later in the night when told of the third baseman’s angry comments.

Sale didn’t care, said he wasn’t losing any sleep over it. And manager John Farrell claimed that a guy who otherwise could have dotted a butterfly’s backside simply missed his spot.

The Orioles couldn’t do much with Sale that night, though Machado hit a long home run off him and didn’t exactly rush around the bases. He allowed two runs and three hits in eight innings, with two walks and 11 strikeouts.

Sale has nine quality starts this year, but his last outing was his worst since joining the Red Sox. Pitching against his former team in Chicago, he allowed five earned runs (six total) and 10 hits over five innings. The nine strikeouts were a nice touch and the Red Sox won 13-7, but the White Sox put a few dents in the armor.

Sale is making his seventh career start and 13 appearance against the Orioles and is 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.417 WHIP in 42 1/3 innings. He’s 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 1.461 WHIP in seven games (four starts) at Camden Yards.

Machado is 4-for-12 with a home run and five strikeouts against Sale, and Mark Trumbo is 5-for-17 with two doubles, a home run and seven strikeouts.

Chris Davis is 1-for-12. Caleb Joseph is 2-for-12 with a double and five strikeouts, but he’s not catching a day game after a night game. Francisco Peña will be behind the plate for his first look at Sale.

Maybe the sixth start of the season shouldn’t be classified as hugely important, but Chris Tillman could use a good one today. He lasted only 2 2/3 innings in his last outing against the Yankees, allowing five runs and seven hits and surrendering three home runs to raise his ERA from 4.43 to 5.87 and leave him with a 1.870 WHIP in 23 innings.

The Red Sox might be the right opponent today. At least there’s a favorable history for Tillman, who’s 10-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 20 career starts against them.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is 5-for-14 with a double, triple, home run and six strikeouts lifetime against Tillman. Xander Bogaerts is 2-for-20 with a home run and Chris Young is 1-for-10 with a double and five strikeouts.

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