Sale appeared visibly upset over the plan to intentionally walk the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in the fifth on Monday, and before the dust had settled, Sale walked Prince Fielder and gave up a two-run single to Victor Martinez that was key in an eventual 7-3 defeat.
The point the White Sox now seem ready to make to their talented left-hander is that sometimes you have to pick your spots.
“He probably wants to pitch to (Cabrera) but that’s my decision,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s one of those that with a lefty on deck, really any lefty -- I know Prince is a great hitter -- Chris against a lefty, you’re going to take that any time just to stay in the game.”
The whole issue could be traced back to the White Sox defense that was sloppy again Monday with three more errors. A fielding error by Alexei Ramirez put leadoff man Hernan Perez aboard in the fifth inning. Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter were retired, while Perez stole second base, bringing the right-handed hitting Cabrera to the plate.
Sale followed orders by walking Cabrera intentionally, but may have been seething immediately afterward when he walked Fielder on four pitches to load the bases. Pitching coach Don Cooper came to the mound, but an upset Sale seemed to be shouting into his glove.
Sale went back to work, but with two strikes on Martinez, the switch hitter singled up the middle for his two RBIs and a 3-0 Tigers lead.
After the inning, Sale disappeared up the tunnel that leads to the White Sox clubhouse. Cooper and Ventura then disappeared after him.
“I don't like giving people stuff,” Sale said. “I like people to earn getting on base. But at the end of the day that's his (Ventura's) call.”
Adam Dunn had a close-up view from first base as the inning unfolded.
“Yeah, I love Chris to death but that’s not really his call (to make),” Dunn said. “He can probably have an opinion on what he wants to do but you have arguably one of the best players in the league for sure, and maybe all-time right-handed. I know you have a tough matchup with Prince there, but I think I would take Chris against a lefty any day of the week.”
Sale was clearly hyped in the matchup against one of the toughest offenses in baseball. He had also returned from All-Star week talking about a meeting with Tigers manager Jim Leyland, in which the two seemed to bond.
It certainly looked like Sale had the burning desire to prove himself in Monday night’s contest.
“Yeah, I mean obviously you want to win every game,” Sale said. “I don't think I put any more emphasis on this one. Obviously you've got to be a little bit more focused with a team like this, with the talent they have over there and going up, against (Max) Scherzer. So you've got to have your A game and it wasn't me.”
Perhaps the next conversation the White Sox have with Sale is that while confidence goes a long way, a little savvy never hurts either.
Dunn was asked if that was Sale just showing some youthful exuberance.
“I love it, how do you not?” Dunn said. “With that stuff I’d think I could get everybody out too. I think that shows the kind of competitor he is for a guy that gets to play once every five days. I’d take him against any righty too. It didn’t work out (in the fifth inning) but it’s probably going to work out a lot more often than not work out for sure.”