I guess you could say this loss was expected.
While, sure, the M's were riding an incredible hot streak that placed them at nine games above .500 in the first week of July and were coming into Chicago to face a team that's pretty ordinary, Chris Sale is pretty tough to beat on any night.
Before the game began, Sale had allowed a total of four hits to left-handers this year (two total players). None of these hits were of the extra-base variety. The Mariners of course responded to the challenge by sending down their only right-handed hitting outfielder (Cole Gillespie) and trotting out a lineup filled with six lefties. A recipe for disaster.
And a disaster it was for the first few innings. In the first inning, Willie Bloomquist and Robinson Cano both struck out while James Jones weakly grounded out. Sale had a game plan and executed it perfectly. His slider was on point and had a ton of horizontal movement which fooled even Cano (more than once). Kyle Seager became the third lefty this year to get a hit off of Sale in the second inning but was thrown out by Dayan Viciedo trying to leg a single into a double.
However, Roenis Elias was on his game for a while too. Through the first three innings, Elias matched Sale frame-for-frame and had his curveball working excellently. Right-handers and left-handers alike were utterly fooled by its movement in the first time through the lineup. That all changed, however, when Viciedo hit one into the bleachers against his future team. It was a solo shot and even though it only went about a row deep in a hitter-friendly ballpark, it still counts.
The wheels didn't really start to fall off for Elias until the fifth inning when Elias started hanging his breaking balls and the White Sox started adjusting after seeing him a second time. Moises Sierra and Tyler Flowers each hit singles to start off the inning and Adam Eaton doubled on a hanging curve, which drove in Sierra. A Gordon Beckham sac fly and a Jose Abreu two-run shot (because of course) later and the score was 5-0. Against Chris Sale, that might as well be 15648985-0.
Joe Beimel and Dominic Leone each logged scoreless innings until Charlie Furbush came on the eighth and coughed up a two-run blast to Paul Konerko to make the score 7-0. The Mariners, unable to get Sale's pitch count up due to his fantastic control and execution, didn't get a shot at the bullpen to attempt a comeback. They ended up getting their lone run on a sac fly by Corey Hart in the ninth but by then it was far too little, too late.
To many fans this loss was likely a massive disappointment. It's hard not to blame such fans considering how helpless the Mariners looked at the plate in a ballpark as friendly to hitters as this one. However, Sale obviously deserves a lot of credit for this one and I'm not sure there's a lineup in the league that would have fared much better if you saw the way those pitches were moving. The M's were able to record six hits (four from lefties and a double by Cano!) and didn't give up even when down 7-0.
Sure, moral victories don't count for anything. But maybe this is how other teams felt about facing King Felix when the Mariners were terrible. Certainly a frustrating feeling but not a game that would make me too concerned about the rest of the season. I'd be more concerned if the Mariners looked like this for the rest of the series.
The good news is that's extremely unlikely. The M's will run King Felix himself tomorrow and then the next day the Mariners get a look at their old pal Hector Noesi. These games should be very winnable and if the M's can leave the Windy City more games above .500 than when they entered, that's all you can really ask for.