Something about Chris Sale's starts against the Detroit Tigers result in scenes like this one:
On July 11, an errant Pissed Sale fastball too close to Prince Fielder's head resulted in benches clearing and All-Star break apologies. Eleven days later, the call to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera caused Sale to express his displeasure through his glove (and he had to say "sorry" for that, too).
The unique developments on Monday night require no contrition for Sale -- unless he feels guilty about making Tigers hitters look foolish over eight beautiful innings. Three batters into the ballgame, he got Cabrera to commit enough to a slider that hit him in the back knee:
Home plate umpire Brian Gorman made the strike call himself, whereas Cabrera wanted an appeal from the first base umpire. You can see why Cabrera wanted the appeal, because he never broke his wrists. On the other hand, his hands carried the bat so far forward that an appeal probably would have resulted in the same call.
Cabrera, perhaps stinging from the HBP that wasn't, continued his complaint after the next pitch, and Gorman didn't waste much time in ejecting him, much to Josh Phegley's surprise:
Gorman told a pool reporter that Cabrera continued to argue about the swing part of the apparent hit by pitch. He was warned and was ejected for continuing to argue.
Phegley had a close-up view of the argument and was surprised by the ejection.
"I didn't know he said, 'Get out of here,' and threw him out," Phegley said. "I thought he said, 'That's enough.' But it probably helped us win the game."
So that would be goofy enough to meet the standards of the previous two starts, but Sale wasn't done. Five innings later, Sale pulled the same trick on Cabrera's replacement, Ramon Santiago:
Adding to the confusion, Santiago took his base while the runner on second, Jose Iglesias, took third. Santiago acted on the assumption that he didn't swing and took his base on the HBP (or knew he swung and tried taking first base in case he didn't know the dead ball rule). Iglesias took third on what he thought was a dropped third strike. The announcers also believed it was a passed ball, since Phegley chased it down toward the visitors' dugout. But Gorman signaled the correct call (strike three, third out) from the start -- he just needed everybody to finally pay attention to him.
It's rare that a ball hits a batter who swung, and I can't say I've ever seen it happen twice in the same game. That makes three Sale-Detroit starts in a row where we need a postgame explanation to fully understand what we witnessed on the field.
It's also the first that hasn't required remorse from Sale, which is a nice departure. Instead, there was only rejoicing:
Which is preferable to: