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Angels hope they don't pay the price for Chris Sale's recent struggles

Angels hope they don't pay the price for Chris Sale's recent struggles
White Sox aceChris Sale,a four-time All-Star, hasa pedestrian 9-7 record with a 3.52 ERAthisseason. (David Banks / Getty Images)

The numbers are right there in front of the Angels, but they still have a hard time comprehending them: Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who will start against the Angels in U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night, is 1-3 with a 7.61 earned-run average in his last four starts.

"I don't look at all of that," said left fielder Shane Victorino, who will bat leadoff for the Angels. "That's when you ask, 'When does that stop?' Hopefully it's not against us, but he can go out any day and be the dominant left-hander he is.

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"He can shut you out on any single night. He might have the mind-set, 'This is the team I'm going to take it to.' When is that guy going to come back? That's the part you try not to focus on. He's arguably one of best left-handers in game."

Sale, a four-time All-Star, is 9-7 with a 3.52 ERA on the season, but he had a 2.72 ERA before running into Kansas City, Cleveland, Boston and Tampa Bay, which combined to score 20 earned runs on 36 hits in 23 2/3 innings against him from July 19 through last Tuesday.

Sale is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in seven career games against the Angels, giving up 16 hits, striking out 34 and walking six in 31 innings. The eight current Angels who have faced Sale are batting a combined .093 (five for 54) against him.

"No matter how good a pitcher is, he's going to hit some bumps in the road, but you're looking at a small sample — this guy is tough," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's as good a pitcher as you're going to face in our league."

The Angels, who won four of six games on their recent homestand to pull to within a half-game of Houston in the American League West, will counter with right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who has not given up a run in 19 innings over his last three starts and is 5-7 with a 4.01 ERA for the season.

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