March 28, 2017 Fair, 44F

Sale sizzles, then struggles as Sox fall to Detroit

CHICAGO – White Sox starter Chris Sale was the model of efficiency in the first inning Sunday against Detroit.

Sale, making his second big league start, needed only 10 pitches and three minutes to retire the Tigers in order.

That dominance quickly disappeared. He struggled with his command in the second inning after pounding the strike zone and landing nine of his first 10 pitches for strikes.

Sale avoided damage in a 33-pitch second, keeping the Tigers scoreless, but the inning took its toll on the lefty. He failed to regain his first-inning form, continuing to pile up pitches and lasting five-plus innings in the Sox’s 5-2 loss to the Tigers that snapped a four-game winning streak. The Sox (5-3) took two of three games from the Tigers (6-3) to win the series.

“I mean, I felt like I had my good stuff and like I said before, I just didn’t use it to my advantage,” Sale said. “I kind of babied it at times, and I just got to get the confidence to throw the pitch I need to throw and not worry about where it is. Just kind of throw it sometimes.”

Sale (1-1) threw a career-high 102 pitches (68 strikes) giving up three runs on five hits – all for extra bases. He threw two wild pitches, walked two and struck out five while battling a small strike zone from home plate umpire Lance Barksdale.

“I think (with) him being a strikeout pitcher like he is, he's going to have a higher pitch total than most guys just because he gets a lot of swings and misses,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That's part of what he brings to the table. It was just kind of in that spot where we were able to take him out, just (based on) pitch count and where we're at in the game.”

The Sox didn’t display much patience against Detroit starter Rick Porcello (1-0), who did not walk a batter and struck out four. Although they finished with eight hits, the Sox managed only five off the right-hander in 7 2/3 innings. Dayan Viciedo’s solo home run in the eighth was the only run Porcello allowed.

“We didn’t play poorly or anything, they just came out and beat us,” said Paul Konerko, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. “They have guys who are going to get their hits and pitchers who are going to throw their good innings. They have a good team, so we’ll take the two-out-of-three and just move on.”

Two runs allowed by reliever Will Ohman in the ninth proved costly as the Sox mounted a comeback in their half of the inning. Facing Tigers closer Jose Valverde, Adam Dunn led off with a double, his second of the game. After a Konerko fly out, back-to-back singles by A.J. Pierzynski and Alexei Ramirez scored Dunn and put runners on first and second with the tying run at the plate.

Kosuke Fukudome grounded out to first, and Viciedo struck out swinging to end the game.

“The wind played a pretty big part in [Sunday’s] game,” Dunn said. “I think for us to win a series, we've got to be have to be happy with it. But we had the chance to sweep a really good team.”

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