Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/16/12

The Chicago White Sox couldn’t get much run support for Chris Sale Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, they didn’t need to. The young starter improved his record to 11-2 as the Sox won the series rubber match 2-1.

The Sox won the third of their ten game road trip and improved to 49-39. The 2-1 score is misleading since 18 hits were given up total. The Royals managed 11 of those 18 off Sale and the score only remained low because of a few key ground balls and strikeouts. Sale (ERA 2.11) continues to prove he belongs on that mound with the way he routinely handles high-pressure situations. For instance, the Royals led off the bottom of the eighth with two singles and for a moment it looked like the Sox would lose the lead or at least end up tied. However, Sale got Lorenzo Cain to flyout and then assisted in a double play to end the inning.

More Chris Sale dominance? No surprises here.

The Kansas City Royals’ starter Luis Mendoza was impressive as well. Over 7 1/3 innings, he only allowed four hits. Fortunately, those hits counted. Adam Dunn homered in the first and Alex Rios scored in the second, but other than that, the Sox offense was shut down. This has been the third game in a row that Dunn has hit a home run, so he’s definitely starting out the second half on the right foot. Alex Rios also continues to be the player we wanted all along. His .320 BA is only one point behind Paul Konerko’s and his RBI total is higher than the team captain’s as well.

Addison Reed was able to get his 14th save when he entered the game in the ninth inning. It was not without tension since Salvador Perez (the game’s tying run) stole second with two outs. It was over quickly, though, as former Sox player Chris Getz grounded out to end the game.

With the Cleveland Indians’ loss, the Chicago White Sox have improved their standing to 3.5 games on top of the AL Central. As every baseball fan knows, this is certainly not a time to get complacent. The Detroit Tigers have gone 8-3 in July and by passing up the Indians today in the standings, they have established themselves as the number one contenders for the top spot. During preseason, baseball analysts were expecting the Tigers to run away with this division and no one likes to perform below expectations (see Adam Dunn last year). After hearing that Gavin Floyd will miss his next start, the Sox need to stay strong despite their starting pitchers dropping like flies.

The Sox will head to Boston to play a four game series against the underperforming Red Sox this week. It’ll be exciting to see how Kevin Youkilis handles his first trip back.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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