Torii Hunter and the Tigers teed off against Chris Sale in the first inning. They couldn’t get anything else against the White Sox’s ace.
Sale overcame a shaky start to strike out a season-high 13, beating Max Scherzer in a matchup of All-Star aces and leading the Chicago White Sox past the Detroit Tigers 6-3 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer and Tyler Flowers also went deep against Scherzer (15-5), who fanned 11 and walked none in 6 2/3 innings. But he was touched up for six runs, five earned, and nine hits.
Sale (11-3) struck out at least 10 for the 17th time in his career, tying Hall of Famer Ed Walsh for the franchise record. The left-hander reached that figure in 81 major-league starts — Walsh made 312 for the White Sox from 1904-1916.
In the nightcap, Detroit prevailed behind Kyle Ryan’s six scoreless innings in his major-league debut for an 8-4 win.
But Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera pulled up lame while running out a grounder in the fourth inning, forcing him from the game. The winner of the last two AL MVP awards could be out for four or five days, a subject that manager Brad Ausmus broached with him earlier in the week.
"It flares up from time to time with different movements and different actions," Ausmus said. "I told him I could give him a day tomorrow, and he said, `No, don’t decide now because I might be good in the morning.’
"We want him in the lineup because he’s such a presence, but we need him to be healthy, too. So it’s a delicate balance."
In the opener, the Tigers tagged Sale for three runs, Ian Kinsler with a leadoff shot and Victor Martinez with a two-run homer.
"We got to Sale early and once they tied the game up this guy found something from within and just shut us down," Hunter said. "His slider was good today, he had the changeup working, his fastball was explosive, 95, 96 so Sale is probably one of the best, if not the best lefties in the game. You talk about three of the best lefties, (Clayton) Kershaw, (David) Price and him. Not fun."
The 25-year old Sale allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings. Jake Petricka pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
"This is a bittersweet team to pitch against. You know what you’re getting, but it’s tough (to be successful)," Sale said.
The Tigers began the day with a one-game lead over Seattle for the second AL wild card.
"I know we struck out a bunch of times, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a game that Chris Sale pitched this year where there was as many hard hit balls," Ausmus said.
Jose Abreu had three singles and his 98th RBI for the White Sox. He entered the day tied with Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the major-league lead.
Chicago beat Scherzer for only the second time in his last 11 decisions. The right-hander had not allowed more than four runs in 12 consecutive starts.
"That was the frustrating part of it. I had great stuff today, anytime you can strikeout 11 and not walk anyone your’e doing things right, but I got beat on a couple of pitches," Scherzer said.
Tigers: Between games, RHP Joakim Soria tested his strained left oblique by throwing on flat ground for the second straight day. "He feels (discomfort) at certain distances, but it has been a longer distance since he’s felt it," Ausmus said. "The last time he felt it, it was at 75 feet. This time it was at 90 feet." The hope is that Soria will be able to throw off a mound next week.
White Sox: Jose Abreu started at DH in both games and was limping at times, the result of an upper leg problem that manager Robin Ventura dismissed as fatigue before the game. "No, not at all," Abreu said when asked whether he had changed his approach at the plate. "In fact, it’s not an injury. It’s just something that’s bothering me and I’m working at (in therapy)."
Tigers RHP Rick Porcello (15-8, 3.06 ERA) will oppose White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.48 ERA) in the series finale Sunday.
DE AZA DEALT
The White Sox traded OF Alejandro De Aza to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor-league right-handers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas.
LA RUSSA, JACKIE ROBINSON KIDS GET THEIR DUE
Ex-White Sox manager Tony La Russa and the Jackie Robinson West Little League team on Chicago’s South Side were honored before the second game. Tigers LHP Kyle Ryan and White Sox RHP Chris Bassitt were set to make their
THEY SAID IT
Sale on Martinez, who is 15 of 28 (.536) with three homers against him: "I’ve been throwing BP to Victor for about 45 years now."
Did he keep the ball after he struck Martinez out?: "Heck, yeah. I guess it’s as fun as it can be when somebody goes out there and completely destroys you every time."
Kinsler hit his 31st career leadoff home run and the second of the season.