CHICAGO -- Chris Sale held up his end of the bargain, but Max Scherzer couldn't match him Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
A potential duel between two of the game's best pitchers fizzled, and Sale led the Chicago White Sox to a 5-1 win against the Detroit Tigers, preventing Scherzer from earning his 20th win of the season.
"I was just trying to pound the zone, fill up the zone and make quality pitches on them," Sale said. "That's a good team. You have to take advantage when you can, and it worked out tonight."
Sale also got some help from the Tigers, who played most of the game without star third baseman Miguel Cabrera and manager Jim Leyland. Both were ejected during Cabrera's plate appearance in the top of the first inning, which took arguably the best bat in baseball out of the lineup.
Cabrera, who was tossed from the game by plate umpire Brian Gorman with an 0-2 count, was hit in the right leg with Sale's second pitch. Gorman, however, ruled that Cabrera swung at the pitch, which negated the hit-by-pitch rule. Cabrera appeared to ask for an appeal from first base umpire Tony Randazzo, but called strikes by the plate umpire are not eligible to be appealed.
Cabrera fouled off the third pitch from Sale and was ejected after stepping out of the batter's box, which brought Leyland out of the dugout to protest. Eventually, Leyland got ejected. Coincidentally, the same situation arose with Cabrera's replacement, Ramon Santiago, in the sixth -- and Gorman called him out for swinging at a pitch that hit him in the leg.
"First of all, the umpire ... he had two calls tonight (that) were almost identical situations," Leyland said. "Swings at the pitch where it hit the batter (and) he called both of them absolutely correct. There's no question about that.
"After hearing Brian's explanation as to why he threw (Cabrera) out, I was a little upset because I did not think that warranted an ejection by any means. He didn't curse him in any way."
Leyland's lengthy discussion with Gorman about the ejection is evidently what led to his own exit.
"I wasn't even upset, really," Leyland said "I was just saying, 'You've got to work to keep guys in the game, in my opinion, particularly at this time of year, with the stakes.' I don't think that warranted an ejection at any point (in the season), but particularly at a time like this. I guess I made my point a little too long and he decided to run me, which is fine. I just thought it was an unnecessary ejection."
As it turned out, it didn't seem to matter much because Sale (11-12) was so dominant. He cruised through the rest of the Tigers' lineup and allowed just one run in eight innings. Sale struck out eight to blow past the 200 mark for a season faster than any pitcher in franchise history.
The lone damage Sale allowed was a solo home run by Victor Martinez in the seventh on a night when the hot, muggy weather conditions could've easily turned the ballpark into a launching pad.
"This is as well as I've seen him pitch this year, as far as feeling at ease throwing all of his pitches at any time," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "You can even see it in his mannerisms on the mound, too. He doesn't let his emotions get carried away. It was nice also to get him some runs."
The Sox didn't need home runs to drive Scherzer from the game early. They used "small ball" to score twice off him in the first inning and then added three more runs in the fourth on four hits and an error.
While coming up short in his third attempt at win No. 20, Scherzer lasted just four innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits.
Paul Konerko had a two-run single to key the first inning, while Dayan Viciedo went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the fourth. Martinez, who came into the game hitting .563 in 16 career at-bats against Sale, finished 2-for-3 for the Tigers (82-62), who have dropped three straight games and six of their last eight.
They also lost a game in the American League Central to the second-place Cleveland Indians, who beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Monday. Detroit has also lost three of the last four against Chicago (58-85).
NOTES: Prior to the game, White Sox DH Adam Dunn re-addressed his comments from last week about possibly retiring before next season and said his thoughts were misconstrued ... Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper was in the dugout after getting checked out again for diverticulitis. ... White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said his team likely would be active in trades and free agency this season, possibly dipping into the organization's young pitching well to acquire needed pieces for next season. ... The ejections were the second of the season for Cabrera and fourth for Leyland.