Phegley's slam helps settle White Sox-Tigers battle

Richard L. Shook, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- It was a good day for fireworks at Comerica Park.
Despite the Fourth of July being a week in the rearview mirror, there were still some explosions during and after the Chicago White Sox's 6-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
White Sox rookie firecracker Josh Phegley hit a grand slam off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez in the sixth inning to give Chicago left-hander Chris Sale nearly as many runs of support in one inning as he had in his previous seven starts.
In the fifth inning, Sale had come up and in with a pitch to fellow All-Star Prince Fielder right after Miguel Cabrera hit his 30th home run of the season to put Detroit on top 3-1. Tigers manager Jim Leyland promptly offered a hands-out 'What's This?' gesture directed at home plate umpire Chad Fairchild.
Then, after Phegley's blast in the sixth, Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen threw a belt-high pitch behind Chicago's Alexei Ramirez, touching off a pushing, shoving and cursing scrum after both benches and bullpens emptied. Ramirez was shouting and moving haltingly toward the mound, and Putkonen was stepping slowly toward the plate.
The upshot was that Putkonen found out after calm returned that he had been kicked out of the game, as had Leyland, who was so irate that he canceled his postgame press conference.
"I was trying to throw an inside fastball," Putkonen said. "It got away from me. I wasn't throwing at him."
Sale said, "I was trying to rear back and throw as hard as I can. It got away from me. There's a time and a place for something like that and that wasn't the time or the place.
"That's not who I am, not what I do. I have a lot of admiration for Prince Fielder and I'll tell him I wasn't trying to send him a message when I see him at the All-Star Game. But from the outside looking in, it doesn't look very good. But I swear by everything I believe in I wasn't trying to send a message or anything."
Phegley's third home run, which came in his fifth major league game, gave Chicago a 5-3 lead. Alejandro De Aza hit his 11th to make it 6-3 in the eighth.
De Aza singled and scored on a double down the left field line by Ramirez in the first inning to get the White Sox off to a 1-0 start, but Sanchez (7-6) settled in until an error by Austin Jackson in center plus balky control got him in trouble in the sixth. A walk plus a one-out single loaded the bases for Phegley, who whacked a 3-2 changeup.
"He's done a good job for us," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That was a big hit."
Sale said, "He's had three home runs off three very, very good pitchers. He's given us a jolt of energy."
Matt Tuiasosopo's sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second, reclaimed the lead for Detroit and Cabrera's 30th made it 3-1 in the fifth. Tuiasosopo was batting for the 77th time when he hit his second home run in his last two games.
Leyland may have been chapped by the fact two of his pitchers have taken a hit for supposedly throwing at players in the last couple of weeks.
Rick Porcello wasn't ejected for hitting Ben Zobrist of Tampa Bay on June 30 but was nailed with a six-game suspension afterward. The suspension was trimmed to five games on Thursday at the same time Porcello dropped his appeal to serve a suspension that won't cost him a start anyway because of the All-Star break.
In both his situation and Putkonen's, the incidents came after Detroit players had been brushed back by pitches that were up and in with no penalty or warning involved.
Ramirez completed his at-bat in the sixth with a soft single over first but came out with what was called a right leg cramp after reaching first base.
Sale (6-8) gave up 10 hits and two home runs while striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings. Addison Reed picked up his 23rd save for pitching the ninth.
NOTES: RHP Jake Peavy of the White Sox will make a rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Birmingham in Huntsville, Ala. ... Leyland has his ducks, and his backup pitchers, all in a row for hurlers who start Sunday and elect not to pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. "Everything's under control," Leyland said. "Some pitchers have their bags already packed." ... Ventura said Dylan Axelrod, who started Tuesday for Chicago, would be available in the White Sox bullpen this weekend in Philadelphia because of the All-Star break. .. The ejections of Putkonen and Leyland were the first of the season for both.

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