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Sale pitches eight innings of two-run ball

The White Sox lost their staff ace and most consistent starter over the past decade to free agency this offseason, and elected not to pursue a replacement externally.

Instead, the White Sox used Mark Buehrle's departure as an opportunity to shift 23-year-old Chris Sale from the bullpen into the starting rotation. One month into the post-Buehrle era, the White Sox sit at .500, thanks largely to some impressive starting pitching.

Sale, who's off to a 2-1 start with a 3.12 ERA, will toe the rubber for his fifth career start on Tuesday when the White Sox welcome the division-leading Indians to U.S. Cellular Field to open a three-game set. Indians outfielder Johnny Damon is expected to join the club in Chicago, where he will make his season debut.

Sale will be looking to throw the Sox's third gem in as many games, following dominant performances by Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd to close out the club's series with the Red Sox.

"If he throws his stuff over the plate, he's got as good of stuff as anybody," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, after Sale beat the Tribe in his first career start April 9. "Inside, outside, slider, changeup. Just a matter of him getting to harness it, and he's still young. People don't understand he's pretty darn young in terms of the baseball world."

The Indians' starters haven't exactly been slouches in their last few outings either. In their three starts against the Angels this past weekend, Cleveland's starters allowed just four runs over 22 innings (1.63 ERA). The Tribe will turn to Ubaldo Jimenez to keep that run going Tuesday night.

Jimenez has struggled with his control at times this season -- walking at least three hitters in each of his four outings -- but still enters the game with a 2-1 record. Through those four outings, Jimenez has actually delivered more walks (14) than he has strikeouts (13).

His only loss, however, came in his most recent outing in which Jimenez felt it was a pair of home runs -- not the walks -- that did him in.

"That's what makes our team compete when our offense is not going good," manager Manny Acta said of his team's solid pitching of late. "If we have a lead after the sixth inning, these guys are a pretty good bet of slamming the door on the opposition. They've been good, especially our starters."

Indians: Choo encouraged by running drills
Prior to sitting out his fifth straight game Sunday, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo tested his sore left hamstring with some running drills on the outfield grass. He came away feeling good about the results.

"It was better than two days ago," Choo said before addressing whether he'd be in the lineup Tuesday. "I think so, but who knows? I don't like to stay in here [the clubhouse] and not play."

White Sox: Konerko dealing with stiff neck
First baseman Paul Konerko was scratched from Sunday's series finale with the Red Sox because of stiffness in his neck. While manager Robin Ventura didn't indicate if Konerko would return on Tuesday, he did stress the move was strictly precautionary.

With Monday's off-day, Konerko's absence from Sunday's game gives the White Sox captain two days to rest his bothersome neck.

"He's had the stiff neck the last couple of days, but he played through it," Ventura said. "I don't think he did it playing. But he had it [Saturday] night for sure, maybe a little the night before. We are just making sure nothing lasts any longer."

Worth noting
• Current Indians players have just a .155 (9-for-58) combined lifetime average against Sale. Choo is 0-for-7 with five strikeouts against the former reliever.

• The White Sox haven't fared much better against Jimenez, hitting a combined .214 (22-for-103). Gordon Beckham and Alex Rios are each 0-for-8 against the right-hander.

• The White Sox, who won the first two meetings this season, are 8-3-1 in season series with the Tribe since 2000.

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