ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon has always maintained that strikeouts are a part of his team's culture.
Well, Monday, you could say the Rays embraced their culture, striking out 15 times against White Sox starter Chris Sale in a 2-1 loss at Tropicana Field with 22,227 watching.
"That guy could have punched out a lot of teams 15 times today," Maddon said. "His stuff was that good. He had really good command of his backdoor breaking ball to the righties. It was very good. Good command of his fastball when he wanted to throw it. Nice changeup. He was just really all that good today."
The loss moved the Rays to 29-20 and gave the team its eighth home loss in 25 games. The Rays tied a season low with three hits and they have lost two of their last three after winning their previous three in a row, dropping to 3-9 all-time on Memorial Day.
Sale, 23, pitched 7 1/3 innings to pick up his sixth win, breezing through the Rays' makeshift holiday lineup that included few starters. At the end of the day, his 15 strikeouts were the most in a game at Tropicana Field, surpassing Pedro Martinez's 14 while pitching for the Red Sox on July 7, 1999.
Sale's strikeout total was the highest for a White Sox pitcher since Jack Harshman set the club record by striking out 16 against the Red Sox on July 25, 1954.
"I didn't know what the record was," Sale said. "That's something I'm not really worried about. I knew I had quite a few there late in the game, but it's the same thing just like any other day. You go out there and you try not to focus on all the external stuff that might get in the way of you doing your job and going out there and doing my job and pitching and getting outs and keeping that ballclub in the dugout."
Sale hails from nearby Lakeland, which made his win all the more special.
"It's nice, especially growing up and being kind of a Tampa Bay Rays fan," Sale said. "My uncle brought me here to the first game; it was the day after my birthday. It was fun coming here back to Florida when your friends and family are here to watch you and support you. It was a special day. It was awesome."
The Rays' only run came in the fourth when Ben Zobrist picked up his second hit of the game and DH Jose Lobaton broke the scoreless duel with his first career RBI with a single.
B.J. Upton struck out three times against Sale while seeing his career-high hitting streak snapped at 10 games.
"I think we all felt after we saw [Sale] a couple of times that it would turn around," Upton said. "But it didn't work out that way. Whatever, it's over with and we're looking forward to tomorrow."
To swing and miss wasn't exclusive to the Rays on Monday. Rays starter Matt Moore carved up the White Sox to the tune of 10 strikeouts in seven innings and the White Sox struck out 11 times for a combined total of 26 strikeouts by both sides.
"Sudden Sam McDowell vs. Bob Veale, both sides, both of them were really, really good," said Maddon using an old-school reference to two great left-handers from yesteryear. "It was great to see Matt bounce back and pitch the kind of game that we expected and against a team that was pretty hot offensively."
Unfortunately for Moore, he could not strike out Adam Dunn. The White Sox slugger hit an epic blast off the 22-year-old left-hander that cleared the stands in right field and ricocheted off the area just below the scoreboard for a two-run homer.
"I really thought [the home run] was going to hit the scoreboard," Maddon said. "It was a helium ball. It was just staying up there."
Added Moore: "I didn't even look because I knew it was probably going to be off the wall or the screen, one of the two. He's a big man. It doesn't take very much for him, he just has to get it going and look out."
Dunn, who has 16 home runs on the season -- giving him five more than his 2011 total -- said he was not sitting on the fastball he got from Moore.
"I know that with him, you don't want to get behind in the count," Dunn said. "I was trying to be a little more aggressive than I normally am. He just kind of made a mistake, and I'm just glad I was ready. A lot of times, I'm probably not ready. He's good, man."
According to Elias, the last time opposing starters age 23 or younger combined for 25 strikeouts was July 31, 1901, when Tom Hughes of the Cubs had 15 strikeouts and Noodles Hahn of the Reds had had 11 in a 14-inning game. In addition, the last time two opposing left-handed pitchers each struck out 10 or more in the same game was Sept. 16, 1992, when the Mariners' Randy Johnson had 15 strikeouts and the Angels' Mark Langston had 12 in a 10-inning game. The last time it occurred in a nine-inning game was July 23, 1985, when Frank Tanana of the Tigers had 11 and Britt Burns of the White Sox had 11.
"That's two of the best young pitchers to come through in a long time, man," Dunn said. "Those two guys, you had to kind of focus to not get caught up in what they were doing. Those two guys are something special, for sure."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.