Just three batters into the first inning, Cabrera was ejected by home plate umpire Brian Gorman and Detroit went on to lose 5-1 to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
The reigning AL MVP and 2012 Triple Crown winner complained to Gorman that he had checked his swing on an 0-1 pitch by Chris Sale that struck him in the right knee.
"I tried to get out of the way and (Gorman) said I swung, I was too far out," Cabrera said. "I asked him how could he explain that. I don't know, I just tried to get out of the way. I told him that a couple of times."
Gorman countered, "(Cabrera) was told to stop arguing and continued to argue and he was ejected for continuing the argument."
Manager Jim Leyland ran out to defend his player and he was booted too.
"I guess I made my point a little too long and (Gorman) decided to run me and that's fine," Leyland said. "I wasn't questioning the calls at all. I just thought (Cabrera) was an unnecessary ejection."
Sale (11-12) outpitched Scherzer, denying him a 20th victory. Sale gave up one run and four hits in eight innings to win for the fifth time in six decisions.
"We ran into a buzzsaw with Sale," Leyland said. "He was absolutely terrific."
Sale was heartened by Cabrera's ejection, but it didn't make his job any easier, either.
"I was kind of like 'thank you,' the best hitter to ever walk the planet leaving after the first," Sale said. "(But) 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."
Scherzer (19-3) gave up five runs and six hits in four innings as he lost consecutive starts for the first time this season after Boston beat him Sept. 3. It was Detroit's fifth loss in six games, dropping the Tigers' lead in the AL Central to 4½ games over Cleveland.
"I just made too many mistakes, elevated the ball, it was too high, I wasn't able to get it down and it cost me," Scherzer said.
As for failing for the third straight time to get his 20th win, Scherzer shrugged.
"I'm not going to beat myself up over this outing," he said. "I've been pitching too well this year to do that. I'm just focused on what I can control and I just need to go out there and pitch the way I'm capable of."
Monday's game was the second meeting of the season between the All-Star pitchers. The first 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 matchup was different for Detroit, which 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).
After the ejections during the top of the first, Chicago gave Sale a lead in the bottom of the inning.
The White Sox took a 2-0 advantage with two outs 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 also 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.
Danks was in the lineup in place of former Tigers outfielder Avisail Garcia, who had two teeth pulled Monday and was held out.
Victor Martinez broke up Sale's shutout bid with one out in the seventh with his 12th home run of the season.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn called their season "gut-wrenching" and said they have "a number of areas we need to upgrade." ... Leyland sounded happy with the results of the July 30 three-team trade that sent Garcia to Chicago, Jake Peavy to Boston and Jose Iglesias to Detroit. Garcia entered Monday hitting .320 in 27 games for Chicago, Iglesias has replaced suspended Jhonny Peralta in the Tigers lineup and was batting .297, and Peavy was 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA, giving all three teams production from their new players. "That's what you want in trades because then you can deal with those people again," Leyland said. ... Chicago's 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." ... White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper (diverticulitis) was back with the team after missing two games. ...Tuesday's pitching matchup is Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.76) against Chicago's Erik Johnson (0-1, 4.50).