Scherzer slightly outduels Sale in White Sox loss
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 12, 2014 10:06PM
Updated: June 13, 2014 12:26AM
Chris Sale was great for seven innings.
Max Scherzer was better for nine.
In a duel between Cy Young winner Scherzer and Cy Young candidate Sale, the left-hander did almost everything he could to try to give the White Sox their first three-game sweep against the Tigers in four years. Sale, 25, struck out 10 and walked none, giving up one run and five hits, one of them Victor Martinez’s 16th homer in the Tigers’ 4-0 victory before 20,626 at U.S. Cellular Field.
But Scherzer (8-2), who won the Cy last season, trumped the Sox’ ace by pitching his first complete game in the 179th start of his career. He held the Sox to a season-low three hits while striking out eight and walking three.
“He was dominant,’’ Sale (5-1) said. “That’s all you can say about him. You know coming into this who you’re going up against, and it’s not going to be easy. For a long time there, it was who was going to flinch first. Unfortunately, it was me.’’
That came when Martinez, who was 12-for-22 with a homer against Sale coming into the game, hooked a semi-flat slider from Sale inside the left-field foul pole leading off the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie.
Sale, who lowered his ERA to 1.97, would finish his seventh and last inning by striking out Nick Castellanos to give him 10 or more K’s in a game for the 13th time in a career that spans two-plus seasons of starting. It was the third time, and second this season, that Sale fanned 10 or more without walking a batter.
“He threw a great game and made one mistake,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
Scherzer, who threw 113 pitches, has heard plenty about not going the distance, so he was thrilled.
“It’s awesome,’’ Scherzer said. “I finally got the monkey off my back, finally was able to go nine and finish the deal. So it’s a great feeling.”
It helped that 20 of the Sox’ at-bats lasted three pitches or fewer.
“Just trying to get ahead in the count,’’ Scherzer said. “If they put the ball in play, that’s on them. I’m sequencing them to get to 1-2. That’s the name of the game, to get to 1-2 before 2-1, and I thought I did a pretty good job tonight even though I walked three guys.’’
Alexei Ramirez doubled Conor Gillaspie to third with two outs in the fourth, but Dayan Viciedo flied out to medium-deep right field to end the inning. Gordon Beckham doubled with two outs in the eighth before Gillaspie grounded out. There wasn’t much else for the Sox (33-34), who, in trying to get within 1½ games of the American League Central-leading Tigers (34-28), settled for taking two of three in a rain-shortened series.
“We’re extremely happy with taking two out of three from a great ballclub over there [against] three very, very good starters [Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander, Scherzer], so that’s what we can take away from this week,’’ Adam Eaton said.
The Tigers scored two in the eighth against Jake Petricka and one in the ninth against Daniel Webb.
“As I got deeper in the game, I felt like I got better and better,’’ Scherzer said.
Sale, who has made five starts since coming off the disabled list (flexor muscle strain), threw 116 pitches after throwing 100 and 115 in his previous two starts. The good news for Sox fans is that more good starts appear to be in the works.
“I feel good, I feel strong,’’ Sale said. “It has been awhile since ‘the incident,’ if you will. I’m not going to build arm strength and get into a rhythm throwing 90 pitches. I need to be that guy to go 115-120 pitches. That’s what I’m signed up for.’’