The White Sox offense isn't so bad that it was going to continue averaging 2.8 runs per game.
The Tigers pitching staff isn't so good that it was going to continue limiting opponents to one earned run every 36 innings at home.
Today went a long way to correct those two outliers. The Sox scored a season-high 12 runs, which was 12 times as many runs as the Tigers had allowed over their first four dates at Comerica Park combined.
The White Sox posted their biggest inning of the season with a four-run third, then topped themselves with a seven-run fourth. As a result, Chris Sale could slip into cruise control for the rest of his six strong innings, and Robin Ventura could take a breather, even if he wound up on the wrong end of another challenge situation.
The Sox used dingers to break it open. Trailing 1-0 in the third inning, the top of the order finally set the table. Adam Eaton drew a one-out walk, then stole second easily on Anibal Sanchez. Melky Cabrera, who has a history of hitting Sanchez well, continued to torment Detroit's starter with an RBI double to tie the game.
Jose Abreu followed with a bloop single, benefiting from a bad break by center fielder Rajai Davis. That turned out to be a big non-error error, as Adam LaRoche turned on an inner-half fastball and kept it fair down the right field line and getting it well over the wall, giving the Sox a 4-1 lead.
The four-run nning was the Sox' largest outburst of the season, but they topped themselves with a seven-run fourth. That sequence took its time unfolding, but the payoff was worth the tension.
Alexei Ramirez led off with a double, but he could only advance to third on Tyler Flowers' double to right, as Ramirez thought J.D. Martinez might be able to run it down, and planned to tag. Micah Johnson then drew a tough walk to load the bases for Adam Eaton.
Eaton's tough luck continued, as he checked up on a high-and-tight two-strike pitch. He hit the dirt cursing, but home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg said it hit the knob of Eaton's bat, and James McCann had caught the foul tip for strike three. With a run on the line and Eaton selling the HBP, Ventura challenged the call, but Detroit's slo-motion cameras offered no contrary evidence this time.
The rest of the lineup made the lost challenge a moot point. Cabrera came up with an RBI single to give the Sox a 5-1 lead and keep the bases loaded, and Jose Abreu topped his teammate by crushing a hanging 2-2 slider out on a line to left for the grand slam. That knocked Sanchez out of the game, but the hits kept coming. LaRoche, Avisail Garcia and Conor Gillaspie strung together three straight singles, and Alexei Ramirez added a sac fly. By the time the carnage subsided, the Sox led 11-1, and Chris Sale could pitch to the score.
Sale's day ended much easier than it started. Pitching in Detroit for the first time since the binoculars incident, he gave up a first-inning run when Davis led off with a bloop double and scored on Miguel Cabrera's single to center. Cabrera moved to second on the throw home, but Sale stranded him with a groundout and a strikeout.
Sale was throwing 96-98 mph through the first three innings, but after the Sox posted their second crooked number, Sale could come right at the Tigers with less. J.D. Martinez took Sale out for a solo shot to right, but LaRoche got the run back the next inning with a blistered double past Miguel Cabrera.
*Melky Cabrera, Abreu and LaRoche combined to go 10-for-15 with three doubles, two homers, six runs and 10 RBIs.
*Eaton and Flowers each drew their first walks of the season, leaving Melky Cabrera as the only starter without one. He had four hits, so no complaints.
*Sale has received 18 runs of support over his two starts. The rest of the rotation: 19 runs over eight starts.
*Sanchez has allowed five homers over 16⅓ innings this season. He allowed four over 126 innings last season.
*Zach Putnam threw another easy inning. Kyle Drabek pitched the last two, giving up a run but avoiding a total Paniagua.
*Micah Johnson booted a grounder up the middle, but he still hasn't committed his first error.