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The Strike Zone

White Sox' Chris Sale retires first 17 Yankees in return from DL

Chris Sale didn't allow a single base runner until there were two outs in the sixth inning. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)Chris Sale didn't allow a single base runner to reach until there were two outs in the sixth inning. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

You think Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox enjoyed the ace's return from the disabled list?

In his first start since hitting the DL in mid-April with a strained flexor tendon in his left forearm, Sale took a perfect game into the sixth inning, allowing a single to the New York Yankees' Zoilo Almonte with two outs in the frame. He fanned Jacoby Ellsbury to end the inning, and earned a round of handshakes in the dugout after that. All told, Sale allowed just the Almonte single in six innings, striking out 10. The bullpen held on in the ninth to edge the Yanks 3-2.

The White Sox were diligent in easing Sale through the rehab process, which helped him return to a major league mound with his full repertoire. His fastball reached the mid-90s, and the changeup was filthy as usual. In 33 1/3 innings this year, he has 39 strikeouts against just seven walks.

In all likelihood, the person who was happiest after the Almonte single was White Sox manager Robin Ventura. The skipper and pitching coach Don Cooper didn't want to stretch Sale too far in his first start back. Removing Sale would've been hard if he was still carrying a perfect game. Sale threw 86 pitches in the outing, with 54 going for strikes.

After the six scoreless innings, Sale's ERA is down to 1.89 and his WHIP is a razor-thin 0.72. He's slated to make his next start Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians. In between now and then, he'll celebrate his bobblehead day at U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday. The bobblehead, as you can see below, perfectly nails the unconventional, all-elbows motion some worry will make Sale an injury-prone starter.

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