There are tough losses, and then there's what White Sox starter Chris Sale suffered Friday night against the Houston Astros. The string bean, sidearm-throwing lefty tortured the 'Stros, striking out 14 hitters and walking one but also giving up two unearned runs, thanks to a rough night in the field for shortstop Alexi Ramirez. How dominant was Sale? Consider:
- Houston batters whiffed at 22 of the 63 pitches they swung at against Sale (about 35%). That's way above the 21% average miss rate for starting pitchers this season. Sale's changeup was the big swing-and-miss offering, with 11 Astros coming up empty against the pitch.
Pitch location of Sale's whiffs vs. Astros on 6/14/13
- Sale managed to get all those whiffs while still pounding the strike zone. He threw 69 of his 124 total pitches (about 56%) over the plate, above the 50% average for starters.
- Chicago's ace fell behind in the count to just five of the 32 hitters that he faced (16%). Overall, MLB pitchers fall behind batters in about 34% of plate appearances.
Sale's outing on Friday was the best by a starting pitcher in a loss this year as measured by Game Score (GSc), a Bill James stat that gauges a pitcher's effectiveness based on innings pitched, strikeouts, hits, walks and runs allowed (both earned and unearned).
Highest Game Score by SP in losing decision, 2013
While Sale has plenty to gripe about, his dominant outing doesn't even come close to making the list of the highest Game Scores in a losing decision since the Expansion Era (1961-present). Jim Maloney and Juan Marichal pitched deep into the extra innings and racked up 100-plus Games Scores, yet suffered the loss. You'll also find Warren Spahn's 15.1 inning gem against the Giants in 1963 on this list. His mound opponent that day? None other than Marichal, who earned the W while lasting 16 frames and posting a Game Score of 112.
Highest Game Score by SP in losing decision since Expansion Era