CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox say they will consider shutting down Chris Sale early this season if there is reasonable cause. Based on his latest start Saturday, he appears to have plenty left.
Sale overcame a shaky start to strike out a season-high 13, beating Max Scherzer in a matchup of All-Star aces and leading Chicago past the Detroit Tigers 6-3 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
"I feel strong this year," said Sale, who spent 34 days on the disabled early in the season. "A lot of that has to do with the missed time early. I'm missing some innings, (so) I have a little bit more (left) now. I'm just trying to stay focused and work hard and go out there and finish this thing strong."
Sale (11-3) struck out at least 10 for the 17th time in his career, tying Hall of Famer Ed Walsh for the franchise record. The lanky left-hander reached that figure in 81 major league starts — Walsh made 312 for the White Sox from 1904-1916.
Sale allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings. Jake Petricka pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez homered off Sale in the first, but he was dominant after that. The AL ERA leader struck out the side in the third, fifth and sixth.
"I get in that scenario a lot when I start overthrowing and coming out of my shoes," said Sale, who walked two and threw 119 pitches. "Things compound after that. Coop (pitching coach Don Cooper) and I talked a lot this week about slowing down, not gripping it and ripping it when bad things happen. That's what I tried to do today — slow it down."
Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer and Tyler Flowers also went deep against Scherzer (15-5), who fanned 11 and walked none in 6 2-3 innings. But he was touched up for six runs, five earned, and nine hits in the makeup of a June 10 rainout.
"That was the frustrating part of it. I had great stuff today," Scherzer said. "Anytime you can strike out 11 and not walk anyone, you're doing things right. But I got beat on a couple of pitches."
Jose Abreu had three singles and his 98th RBI for the White Sox. He entered the day tied with Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the major league lead.
Chicago beat Scherzer for only the second time in his last 11 decisions. The right-hander had not allowed more than four runs in 12 consecutive starts.
"You go down three in the first against these guys, against pretty much anybody, but (especially) with Scherzer on the mound, you don't like your chances," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But these guys grinded it out."
The White Sox took a 5-3 lead in the third, when they turned four straight hits into four runs. After Alexei Ramirez's ground-rule double scored one run and Abreu's single brought home another, Dunn launched a two-run shot to right field.
Flowers' homer gave Chicago a 6-3 advantage one inning later.
After the Tigers struck in the first inning, the White Sox answered with an unearned run in the bottom half. Adam Eaton led off with a single, moved to third on Scherzer's wild pickoff throw and scored on Kinsler's error at second base.
Kinsler hit the fifth pitch of the game into the left-field bullpen to give Detroit an early lead. The leadoff homer was his second in nine days and the 31st of his career. Torii Hunter followed with a base hit, and one out later, Martinez sent a two-run homer to left field.
"Sale is probably one of the best, if not the best lefty in the game," Hunter said.
Martinez has a .536 batting average (15 of 28) and three homers against Sale in his career. "I've been throwing BP to Victor for about 45 years now," Sale joked.
SOUTH SIDE SALUTE
The Jackie Robinson West Little League team from Chicago's South Side was honored before the second game. It became the first all-black team to win the United States championship before losing to South Korea in the title game.
TRAINER'S ROOM Tigers: Between games, RHP Joakim Soria tested his strained left oblique by throwing on flat ground for the second straight day. "He feels (discomfort) at certain distances, but it has been a longer distance since he's felt it," manager Brad Ausmus said. "The last time he felt it, it was at 75 feet. This time it was at 90 feet." The hope is that Soria will be able to throw off a mound next week.
White Sox: Abreu started at DH and was limping at times, the result of an upper leg problem that Ventura downplayed before the game. "No, not at all," Abreu said when asked whether he had changed his approach at the plate. "In fact, it's not an injury. It's just something that's bothering me and I'm working at. I'm going about everything the same way I always have." Abreu has hit .385 since the All-Star break to move into Triple Crown contention, but has only four home runs in that span.
Tigers LHP Kyle Ryan and White Sox RHP Chris Bassitt were set to make their major league debuts in the nightcap. Both were promoted from the minors for the game.