CHICAGO – Miguel Cabrera wasn't around for the whole game, and the way Chris Sale pitched his presence might not have mattered.
Sale outpitched Max Scherzer, denying him his 20th win, and Cabrera and manager Jim Leyland were ejected in the first inning as the Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 5-1 Monday night.
Sale (11-12) gave up one run and four hits and struck out eight in eight innings to win for the fifth time in six decisions. And though he was thankful that Cabrera was ejected early, he didn't pitch like he needed much help getting through a struggling Detroit lineup.
"The guy's the best hitter in the game, so it does change the game . the dynamic of it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But I think the way Chris was throwing tonight and the way we scored I would hope that he would have been able to still do the same stuff."
After an 0-1 pitch, the reigning AL MVP and 2012 Triple Crown winner complained to home plate umpire Brian Gorman that he had checked his swing on a pitch that struck him in the right leg. Gorman disagreed and didn't appeal to first base umpire Tony Randazzo, making the count 0-2.
Cabrera then fouled off the next pitch, continued complaining and was abruptly ejected and replaced by Ramon Santiago.
"I don't know what I said, but it was a little frustrating because I think that I let my team down when he threw me (out) in the first inning," Cabrera said. "He didn't tell me anything. He threw me out right away. He didn't say to stop or anything to me. He just kicked me out straight up."
Leyland came to his player's aid and was ejected after arguing with Gorman.
"I wasn't questioning the calls at all," Leyland said. "I just thought it was an unnecessary ejection."
Sale certainly wasn't complaining about that turn of events.
"Not at all. I even was kind of like 'thank you,'" Sale said. "I'm not taking anything away from Santiago, he's a heck of a player too, but the best hitter to ever walk the planet leaving after the first is . it doesn't get any easier after that. You've still got to make pitches because they've got a heck of a lineup up and down."
Other than Victor Martinez's home run in the seventh, Sale had no issues with a team that has scored only 14 runs in September apart from its 16 on Friday against Kansas City.
Sale's strikeout of Austin Jackson to end the third gave him 200 on the season in 190 2-3 innings pitched. It made him the fastest pitcher in White Sox history to 200 strikeouts in a season, passing Javier Vazquez in 2007 (207).
He also got some run support against Scherzer (19-3), whom he was facing for the second time. The first meeting was on July 22, when Scherzer pitched eight innings and allowed two runs to beat Sale, who also went eight but was victimized by two unearned runs.
This time was different.
The White Sox took a 2-0 advantage with two outs in the first when Paul Konerko singled to center, driving in Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham. Beckham walked with no outs and advanced to second on Adam Dunn's fly ball to center, which got De Aza to third.
Chicago scored three times with two outs in the fourth. Dayan Viciedo's RBI single gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead, then Scherzer's throw to first on Josh Phegley's soft roller between third and home was well away from Prince Fielder, bringing in Viciedo and Jordan Danks.
"We've come up short a lot for him this year when he was throwing some great games and it was nice to give him a win against a guy who will probably win the Cy Young," Konerko said.
Sale also has a case, though he wasn't thinking too much about his chances to win the award.
"For me, it's one day at a time, one game at a time," Sale said. "Whatever that stuff happens to be it is. Try not to put too much emphasis on it, just go out there and do everything I can to win that game."
NOTES: White Sox general manager Rick Hahn called their season "gut-wrenching" and said they have "a number of areas we need to upgrade." . White Sox OF Avisail Garcia was not in the lineup after getting two teeth pulled. ... White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper (diverticulitis) was back with the team after missing three games. . White Sox DH Adam Dunn refuted a recent report that he was considering retirement. While he did say that the White Sox playing the way they have is a "letdown," he also said "I don't know where that comes into that I'm retiring. ... Tuesday's pitching matchup is Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.76) against Chicago's Erik Johnson (0-1, 4.50).