ST. PETERSBURG — Before Friday's game against the White Sox, Rays manager Kevin Cash harped on the toughness of playing against an opponent such as Chicago lefty Chris Sale.
"I don't think I can say anybody's better than him," Cash said of the four-time all-star. "You can say that people are comparable, but I don't think it's fair to say that anybody is better than he is."
But in actuality, Friday's game wasn't just a one-man show but a duel between two defenses that, for most of the night, simply wouldn't budge.
Sale was sharp from the start, giving up just one hit through six innings. For the Rays, Jake Odorizzi gave up four hits during that span but allowed only one baserunner past second, and Logan Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier went after a fly ball so hard in the fourth inning that they collided, were shaken up and had to leave the game.
In the ninth, with the Rays' second reliever, Alex Colome, on the mound, the White Sox broke through. Jimmy Rollins had a lead-off single, then Melky Cabrera drove him home, lifting the White Sox to a 1-0 victory.
The Rays (3-7) were stifled offensively from the first pitch. Desmond Jennings singled in the second for their first hit, but that was all the Rays could muster until Steve Pearce's single in the seventh. Jennings reached right after that on an error by Rollins at short, but Steven Souza Jr. struck out to end the inning and strand the Rays' first and only runner in scoring position.
Similarly, the White Sox made contact sparingly — doubles in the first and second innings and back-to-back singles in the fourth — but had nothing to show for it.
"I just kind of got in the flow of the game, really. Once the other guy puts up zeroes and you keep matching him, you just kind of … relax a little bit, and it just becomes habit," Odorizzi said. "He threw an incredible game today, and we were just on the short end of it."
In the fourth, the White Sox had singles from Todd Frazier and Cabrera. The inning ended when second baseman Forsythe and centerfielder Kiermaier ran for a Avisail Garcia fly ball. Forsythe made the grab as they collided. Forsythe, who got up immediately, was diagnosed with a bruised left hip and lower leg. Kiermaier, who was attended to on the field but walked off, has a head contusion. Cash said Kiermaier will be monitored over the next 24 hours.
"I ran into Logan pretty good there, but overall I think it could have been a lot worse. I feel all right," Kiermaier said. "As an outfielder we want to try and make that play, because it's a tough play for an infielder going back like that … and I called it too late."
The complete-game shutout was the second in Sale's career. He gave up two hits while striking out nine. "Some nights you just tip your cap. The guy was outstanding," Cash said. "Chris Sale, he's done it for quite some time, and he had everything going today, for sure."