Chris Sale has lived up to expectations for the Chicago White Sox to start the season, eating up innings while helping them earn nearly one-third of their victories.
Sale's recovery from his latest solid outing has been more difficult than usual, though, and he's heading to the disabled list instead of squaring off with Justin Verlander and the host Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
The left-hander has gone 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA over four outings, giving up one run and striking out 10 in seven innings of a 3-1 loss to Boston on Thursday.
Sale has thrown at least 105 pitches in each start and tossed a season-high 127 against the Red Sox, causing him to experience some soreness. Manager Robin Ventura hoped to just push Sale back to Wednesday's contest, though general manager Rick Hahn said Sale would be placed on the DL with a strained muscle in his throwing arm.
"You just don't want to take any chances," Ventura said. "We got it figured out while the game was going on (Monday). Give him some rest and get him healthy."
The good news for Chicago is that an MRI didn't reveal any ligament damage. Right-hander Andre Rienzo, who pitched a scoreless inning of relief Sunday in his season debut after going 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA in 10 starts in 2013, will fill in for Sale on Tuesday.
Sale's teammates were relieved to hear the injury isn't serious.
"I was more concerned before the game (because) he was going to get looked at," fellow starter John Danks said. "To hear that he's going to be OK and not miss too much time, it's great. That's a big shoe to fill."
Danks gave up one run in 6 1-3 innings to help the White Sox (10-10) earn a 3-1 victory in Monday's series opener, one day after they ended a four-game losing streak with a 16-2 win over Texas.
Chicago seeks its first three-game run of the season as it faces Verlander, who looks to bounce back from an uncharacteristic outing.
Verlander (2-1, 2.08 ERA) was stellar in his previous three starts before struggling at times Thursday, giving up three unearned runs and six hits while walking four and striking out seven over five innings of a 7-5 win over Cleveland.
The right-hander threw a season-high 113 pitches.
"Justin wasn't himself in the sense that he didn't go very deep in the game," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But he obviously still kept us in the game."
Verlander won five straight starts with a 1.88 ERA against the White Sox from July 26, 2011-Sept. 2, 2012, but he's taken the loss the last two times he's faced them. He gave up five runs and 12 hits in an 11-4 defeat July 9, then allowed seven runs - three earned - in six frames of a 7-4 loss July 25.
The Tigers (9-7) had won three of four prior to Monday's defeat, which came despite Anibal Sanchez and three relievers holding the White Sox to five hits. Torii Hunter had two hits and Alex Avila had an RBI groundout in the second that scored Hunter.
Jose Abreu and Dayan Viciedo had an RBI apiece for Chicago, which was held to three runs or fewer for the fourth time in five games.