White Sox-Tigers Preview
Although Chris Sale might not have a comment on the incident that marred his last start at Comerica Park, manager Robin Ventura insists the Chicago White Sox have moved on.
The left-hander will try to help the White Sox halt the Detroit Tigers’ best start in three decades Saturday when he faces them for the first time since his actions caused the benches to clear in September.
"We’re here to play baseball," Ventura told MLB’s official website. "… Everybody else can scare up whatever they want."
Sale tipped his cap toward center field after striking out Victor Martinez in the third inning of a 6-1 loss in Detroit on Sept. 24, then hit Martinez with a pitch in the sixth and both benches stormed onto the field after the two exchanged words. No punches were thrown, but Sale again pointed into the direction of center.
Martinez was told that the White Sox (3-6) believed he was stealing signs with the help of someone positioned in center field. The designated hitter is 15 for 29 with three homers lifetime off Sale, with that .517 average being by far the best of the 36 players with at least 15 at-bats against him.
"They were claiming that someone with binoculars in center field was giving signs to Victor," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said after the game. "I think it’s a little weak that they would hit him."
The Tigers (9-1) never retaliated while in the midst of a playoff race, which led some to believe the tension would carry into this season. Ventura said he’s since talked with Ausmus, and White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers added he isn’t interested in getting into another incident with Sale back in Detroit.
"That was the heat of the battle toward the end of a long and competitive season playing against each other, beating each other up," Flowers said. "That was just part of it during that game."
Martinez, battling soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, is expected to start after being rested Friday and relegated to pinch-hitting duties in Pittsburgh earlier this week. He’s batted .385 in his last 43 games versus Chicago.
Sale allowed one run and struck out eight over six innings Sunday in a 6-2 victory over Minnesota to win his season debut, which was pushed back due to a foot injury. He’s 3-2 with a 1.71 ERA in his last seven starts against Detroit, totaling 65 strikeouts over 52 2-3 innings.
He’ll try to prevent the Tigers from starting 10-1 for only the second time in franchise history, with the other coming in 1984 when they last won the World Series. Detroit began this series with a 2-1 victory Friday on Jose Iglesias’ walk-off single.
Iglesias is batting .484 to lead the AL, and Miguel Cabrera isn’t far behind at .439 after each went 2 for 4. Cabrera, however, went 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts when facing Sale in 2014.
Detroit has totaled just five runs during a three-game winning streak but allowed only one, a second-inning homer to former Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia on Friday.
The Tigers are 4-0 at home, with one win coming thanks to Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 3.46) throwing six scoreless innings against Minnesota last week. However, the right-hander struggled in Monday’s 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh, giving up five runs and eight hits with three homers over 6 1-3 innings.
Sanchez has lost all four of his home starts against Chicago while posting a 5.87 ERA.
Geovany Soto (5 for 10) and Melky Cabrera (11 for 24) have hit well against Sanchez. Adam Eaton is batting .442 over his last 10 games against the Tigers after going 2 for 4 on Friday.