Phegley gives Sale a helping slam in White Sox win
July 11, 2013 8:27PM
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Updated: July 13, 2013 12:52AM
DETROIT — Pitching coach Don Cooper said this of White Sox ace Chris Sale on Thursday: ‘‘He gets a little over-amped at times. But I’d rather have to tame a tiger than push a jackass.’’
Cooper is working on keeping Sale calm during games, especially when things don’t go his way, and his words before the Sox’ 6-3 victory Thursday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park were prophetic. By buzzing Prince Fielder with a high and inside fastball that sailed to the backstop a few hours later, Sale (6-8) instigated a chain of events that included a retaliation pitch to Alexei Ramirez that emptied both dugouts and led to the ejections of Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen and manager Jim Leyland.
Whether Sale’s pitch to Fielder in the fifth inning, which followed the 30th home run of the season by Miguel Cabrera, was intentional or a case of Sale overthrowing when he “gets PO’d,” as Cooper put it, you be the judge. Sale made it clear it was the latter.
“Just trying to rear back and throw it as hard as I can,’’ Sale said. “I’ve said it before. There’s a time and place for that, and this wasn’t the time or the place. I’m not even trying to send a message. I’m not trying to back him off the plate, honestly.
“I got a lot of respect for Prince, the Detroit Tigers and the game of baseball. Going out there and doing something childish like that, that’s not who I am. That’s not what I do. It was one of those that kind of got away and unfortunately turned into something.’’
It turned into something two batters after catcher Josh Phegley hit a grand slam to give the Sox a 5-3 lead and knock out Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez in the sixth inning. Putkonen threw behind Ramirez, and the Sox shortstop took issue, taking a few steps forward and pointing at Putkonen.
“I reacted like any other player would have,’’ Ramirez said through a translator. “That wasn’t a pitch that was intended to go in the zone. That pitch was intended to hurt me. If you are hurting me, you are hurting my family. You are hurting my kids. That’s something I have to react to.’’
While Tigers catcher Brayan Pena held Ramirez back, both benches emptied, and then the bullpens, without further incident. Players from both teams basically formed a circle around Leyland, who erupted after getting ejected by plate umpire Chad Fairchild.
“[Putkonen] threw behind him, and I deemed it intentional,” Fairchild said.
On Sale’s pitch that buzzed Fielder, Fairchild said, “There was no reaction from Fielder. He said nothing. There was no reaction from anyone else. The only reaction was from Sale, who made a motion like, ‘Damn, it got away.’ ’’
After Leyland — who declined to talk to reporters for the first time this season — finished his third entertaining rant, both dugouts were issued warnings.
Ramirez swung and missed at two pitches from Al Alburquerque before singling. Ramirez then left the field clutching the back of his right thigh, an arm wrapped around trainer Herm Schneider. He had leg cramps and is day-to-day.
“I’m going to wait until tomorrow, but I’m coming to play,’’ Ramirez said. “Right now, I feel good after I got treatment.’’
Sale, who had lost six straight decisions because of poor run support, was like a kid at Christmas when Phegley, who has three homers since getting called up last weekend, went deep.
“That was awesome,’’ Sale said. “Being in that situation and watching that ball go over the fence was very satisfying to say the least. What a game. We didn’t put our heads down, didn’t quit. Phegley ended up winning the game for us.”