CHICAGO – Even though he was less than stellar in his final outing of the season, White Sox ace Chris Sale finished with some gaudy statistics: 214 1/3 innings pitched, 226 strikeouts and a 3.07 ERA.
"Those are all things to build off of, I guess you could say, and things to strive for in the future," Sale said after a 6-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
"You can strike out as many people as you want, but you've got to win some games," Sale said. "That's something else I'm waiting for for next year."
Despite the impressive statistics and establishing himself as one of the better pitchers in the American League, Sale finished with an 11-14 record, which is an indication of the lack of run production the Sox have managed in compiling a 62-98 record and ensuring the franchise's worst record since 1970.
Because of that, manager Robin Ventura noticed points of the season where Sale tried to be a little too perfect.
"At times, I think he had a little of that," Ventura said. "We weren't scoring runs for him and he felt if he gave up one run, in his mannerisms you could see he felt as if he lost the game. At times, I don't blame him for that either, because that's what happened."
The White Sox didn't offer much run support Friday – their lone run came on a homer by Gordon Beckham in the sixth inning – but it probably wouldn't have mattered in this one because Sale was less than his best, giving up four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"I think that's a reoccurring theme every year: My last one's always a bad one," Sale said. "Hopefully, I can fix that next year. I just didn't have it tonight."
His counterpart certainly did. James Shields (13-9) struck out 10 and scattered four hits over seven innings for his 100th career win. Shields (13-9) gave up just one run and walked one.
"He's given us not only No. 1 starter stuff, he's provided great leadership, has been a great example for our guys," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Shields. "He's a big part of our season and why we're at 85 wins now."
Billy Butler led the Royals with three hits and two RBIs, while Emilio Bonifacio drove in two runs with two hits.
The Royals' 85th win is their most since 1989 when they were 92-70.
The Royals took a 3-0 lead in the first off Sale.
Bonifacio walked and stole second, moved to third on Eric Hosmer's single, and both scored on Butler's double. Butler scored on Lorenzo Cain's single.
Kansas City made it 4-0 in the fourth when Jamey Carroll doubled — the 1,000th hit of his major league career — and scored on Bonifacio's single.
Sale was lifted with one out in the top of the sixth. He gave up four runs and nine hits, walked one and struck out five. He also hit a batter.
Sale's replacement, Jacob Petricka, promptly gave up two runs. Alcides Escobar singled and scored on Alex Gordon's double. Gordon scored on another single by Bonifacio.
Following Beckham's fifth home run of the season in the sixth, Alexei Ramirez, appeared to follow with another homer, but Gordon grabbed the ball at the fence in left field.
NOTES: Having fallen out of the wild card race, the Royals are playing out the string this weekend. But Yost is proud of what his team accomplished in the second half of the season: "We have more wins than anybody in the American League since the All-Star break except Detroit, and they're tied with us (coming into Friday). We feel like our organization has made great progress. We got to experience what it was like playing deep into September in a playoff race and it was great experience." ... White Sox INF Jeff Keppinger had a successful debridement procedure on his right shoulder Thursday. Recovery will be two to three months. Keppinger should be back to full strength by the start of spring training. ... White Sox 1B Paul Konerko, who will not make a decision on whether he'll retire or return for one more season for at least a month, needs just six bases to break Frank Thomas' team record for total bases (3,949).