Huge innings, Abreu's slam lift White Sox over Tigers
By Scott Merkin and Chris Vannini
DETROIT -- Take Chris Sale and mix in the White Sox biggest offensive output of the 2015 season by a long shot and what do you have? A 12-3 victory for the South Siders on Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park and a long day for the Tigers and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez.
The trio of Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche combined to go 10-for-16 with three doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs and six runs scored. Cabrera tied a career-high with four hits, done for the 13th time overall by the left fielder, while LaRoche and Abreu went deep. Abreu launched his second career grand slam to key a seven-run fourth and end the afternoon for Sanchez.
Sanchez allowed nine runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings, striking out two and walking two. With the immense run support from a team that scored 25 runs in its first nine games, Sale went into cruise control. The White Sox have scored 18 of their 37 runs during Sale's two starts.
"Man, yeah, It really takes all the pressure off," Sale said. "You still have to perform and get through it. I don't think I've ever seen 12 runs before. It was impressive."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The big innings: With one swing of the bat, LaRoche gave the White Sox their biggest single output of the 2015 season. LaRoche's three-run blast, following singles from Cabrera and Abreu, completed a four-run third inning. Three runs represented Chicago's previous high, done twice. But that high watermark didn't last long, as Abreu's grand slam highlighted a seven-run fourth. It was the most runs the White Sox scored in an inning since bringing home seven in the seventh against the Tigers on July 29, 2014. More >
Sanchez can't keep 'em in the park: LaRoche's third-inning blast was followed by Abreu's slam in the fourth for Sanchez's second home run allowed in the game. The Tigers' starter has allowed five home runs over his last two starts, which is more than the four he allowed in all of 2014. Sanchez has also now allowed two multihomer games after none in '13 or '14.
"The ball's up again," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Same thing in Pittsburgh. He has the ability to pitch up at times, but there's that fine line between pitching above the batter's bat and pitching at the batter's bat. If it's a tick higher, he probably gets the popups like he did earlier in the game."
Smooth Sale(ing): After battling through a 28-pitch first inning, Sale was hardly challenged over his next five frames. Sale was touching the high 90s velocity-wise early in the game, but once the White Sox produced a 10-run lead, the lefty was looking to get outs as quickly as possible. He struck out six and walked one, allowing an RBI single to Miguel Cabrera and a solo homer to J.D. Martinez.
"At that point, you're trying to eat as many innings as you can," Sale said of his big-lead philosophy. "You can go out and give up a few more runs, and it's really not going to hurt. The main thing from then on out is saving the bullpen." More >
Not-so-long relief:Blaine Hardy relieved Sanchez after the grand slam, but he gave up two quick singles before a wild pitch advanced the runners, and another single and a sacrifice fly scored both. Hardy allowed three earned runs on five hits and only lasted 1 1/3 innings. The Tigers' bullpen has been rested recently, but long relief is something they're still looking for, and Hardy didn't last very long, causing Detroit to use four more pitchers.
"I actually don't sense any panic. I think we have a really good team. I don't view the record early as a marker of where we are going to be." -- Gordon Beckham, on team's slow start.
"I don't know. I'm not going to pitch and not try to allow homers. I just try to execute a pitch and help the team win. I'm not going out there trying to give up homers. I didn't last year. I just try to keep working hard this year. I don't know what's going on right now, but I need to figure it out." -- Sanchez, on allowing five home runs in his last two starts.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Sale threw 28 pitches in the first inning, 23 of which went for strikes. He also threw 11 pitches in that opening frame that hit either 97 or 98 mph.
• Three hits in three at-bats on Saturday for Melky Cabrera raised his lifetime mark to 14-for-27 (.519) against Sanchez.
With the bases loaded and Adam Eaton up in the fourth, home-plate umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled that Eaton foul tipped an 0-2 pitch into the glove of catcher James McCann. The call was challenged by the White Sox, as Eaton reacted as if he was hit in the right hand, but Kellogg's call was upheld by video replay.
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Jose Quintana makes his second start of the week at 12:08 p.m. CT after beating the Indians on Tuesday. Quintana will work on regular rest with two off-days for the White Sox this week. Hector Noesi was bumped back to Tuesday.
Tigers: Detroit will send Shane Greene to the mound at 1:08 p.m. ET against the White Sox at Comerica Park, with the righty looking to make history. Greene has yet to allow an earned run through two starts, and no Tigers pitcher has ever gone three starts into a season without an earned run. Greene pitched eight scoreless innings in Pittsburgh in his most recent outing.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.