O’s game blog: A look at the challenge of facing Chris Sale

As the Orioles face Chris Sale (10-2, 2.01 ERA), one of baseball’s best pitchers tonight, maybe they will be encouraged by how they did against him on June 23.

Sale has held American League batters to a .196 batting average this season. But that night, the Orioles had 11 hits off Sale in six innings and batted .423 against him.

They beat the White Sox 6-4 that game. They didn’t pin a loss on Sale, but that is easily his season-high for hits allowed. He has not given up more than eight hits in any other start.

By the way, the Orioles won that game on a pinch-hit three-run homer by Chris Davis in the last of the ninth. It was the Orioles’ first pinch-hit walk-off homer since Larry Sheets hit one on Aug. 24, 1988 against Seattle.

Sale has had a dominant season and ranks first in the AL in winning percentage, second in ERA and WHIP, and third in opponents’ batting average.

He has current numbers that would produce career-bests in WHIP (0.89), hits per nine innings (6.3), homers per nine innings (0.5) and walks per nine (1.7).

In 130 innings, Sale has walked just 24 with 150 strikeouts and has given up just seven homers all season. One was hit by Adam Jones, whose two-run shot off Sale produced the only runs the lefty has allowed in the first inning this year.

Sale has 15 quality starts in 19 outings, including in 10 of his last 11 outings. The White Sox are 13-6 when he takes the mound.

Sale was on the disabled list for the first time in his career from April 18-May 21 with a flexor muscle strain. The good news for O’s fans is that is - as far as I can tell - the same injury that ended minor league pitcher Hunter Harvey’s season, and Sale has come back strong from that.

Bud Norris (10-7, 3.75 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles tonight. He has allowed two earned runs or less six times in his past nine starts, going 6-2 with a 2.91 ERA in that stretch. Norris is 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in five second-half starts. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 6.97 in two career starts against Chicago.

The Orioles went 2-1 against Chicago in June at Camden Yards. They have won five of the last seven between these teams and are 12-6 against the Sox since 2012.

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