9/22/2013 1:44 P.M. ET
Second-half strength shows Sale's progress as pitcher
By Bobby Nightengale / MLB.com
DETROIT -- While Chris Sale has been dominant for the past two seasons, he wanted to finish this year stronger than he showed last September.
Sale posted a 4.03 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 89 1/3 innings in the second half last year, and he's improved to a 3.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP this season in 93 innings.
"I think he was able to manage it better this year," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Coming into the season, I think he had a better idea of what it took to get through a season, get deep into games and kind of stay stronger throughout the year, and it showed."
Sale, 24, set a franchise record for left-handers with 221 strikeouts in a single season on Saturday night. He only trails Ed Walsh, who recorded four seasons with at least 254 strikeouts before 1912, though Walsh pitched at least 368 innings in each season compared to Sale's 209 innings this year.
"He's good. You can say all the numbers you want and match them up. I think, for this day in age, what Chris has done this early just shows he's up there with the elite pitchers in the game," Ventura said. "Those are all nice things to have, but regardless of what the numbers are, you like him taking the mound every five days."
After Saturday's game, Sale held up one of the game balls to commemorate the strikeout record and joked that he was finally able to get out Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, who is batting .545 with a 1.383 OPS against him.
"Like I always say, I'd rather be lucky than good," Martinez said. "Sale is a tough man to face. For some reason, I've been able to put good swings on him and find holes. Honestly, those are not fun at-bats, trust me."
They haven't been fun at-bats for most Tigers hitters, as Sale went 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in five starts against Detroit this season.
"He's able to throw a lot of those pitches for strikes," said Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, who is 2-for-30 in his career against Sale. "That slider, it seems like he can throw that for a strike when he wants. He'll throw a really good slider for a strike first pitch, and it's like, 'That's the get-me-over slider right there? That looked like a two-strike one.' He's legit. He's good."
Konerko stands alone in experience at Comerica Park
DETROIT -- The Tigers moved from Tigers Stadium to Comerica Park in 2000, back when the average gallon of gas cost about $1.50 and the song "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child was at the top of music charts.
Amidst all the changes through the years, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is the only player who has played with the same team at Comerica Park for all 14 years of its existence.
"I do take pride in that, and in this day and age, it's rare for a guy to get up to 10-plus years with the same team," Konerko said. "It's just tough with the business side of it and all that to have that happen, so I feel lucky to be one of those guys that's had the chance to do that."
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and shortstop Derek Jeter both have been playing since the park's opening, but missed a trip to Detroit in the either of the last two years because of injuries. Konerko was a free agent following the 2005 and '10 seasons, but chose to stay with the White Sox each time.
"Really after 2005, that was the one where you're kind of in the middle of your career and right then you're going to make a choice whether you go somewhere else for probably six, seven years or you're going to play where you are, and you're kind of going to make your stand then," Konerko said. "I did, and I'm proud that I stayed.
"I think once those decisions were made, you come to those crossroads in your career, and you make your stand right then and once you make them it's over with. I haven't really thought about going or playing for another team since then."
Konerko only played five games at the old Tigers Stadium and said he doesn't remember much about the park besides it's short distances down the lines and the conditions of the visiting clubhouse.
"Obviously, the clubhouse was not good," Konerko said. "I don't remember too much. Whenever I think of Detroit, I think of this stadium now. For a while, they weren't drawing fans here, they weren't a good team and all that, so I've seen this change. It seems night and day compared to where it was in the early to mid-2000's."
Adjustments help Purcey regain big league success
DETROIT -- David Purcey is making the most of his latest opportunity in the big leagues this season after last pitching with the Tigers in 2011.
Purcey struggled with his command during his stint with Detroit, walking 20 batters over 18 2/3 innings while also giving up 15 runs.
"For me, when I was going bad, I was walking guys," Purcey said. "That just put extra guys on base, and you can't do that. It wasn't like I was inconsistent getting over the plate and guys were hitting me. In fact, ideally I wish I would have rather had that than walking guys because you're giving you're team a chance. With every struggle as pitcher you're going to grow.
Although the left-hander allowed three runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings on Friday, he's only given up six earned runs over 24 appearances. Between July 19 and Sept. 13, Purcey only allowed one earned run in 20 2/3 innings. While he's only made small changes from his time in Detroit to now with the White Sox, they've paid dividends for his success.
"A couple of changes where my hands are and just getting myself to be more comfortable on the mound, staying a little bit more natural throwing on the mound now," Purcey said. "Before, I was kind of fighting it here and there, and I would get out of it. Now, it just feels more natural to me being on the mound, and the way I go after hitters now just feels more comfortable to me."
Semien makes good first impression at third
DETROIT -- Marcus Semien made his first Major League start at shortstop on Saturday, and proved it's a position that he will be able to play in the big leagues.
Semien was able to field six ground balls without an error, while also making three putouts. He moved back to third base for Sunday's game.
"He was good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Even late in the game, he had some tough plays. He looked fine. He looked comfortable enough that you trust him being out there."
At the plate, Semien went 1-for-6 with a double on Saturday, but he is batting .293 with four RBIs in 13 games this season. Ventura said Semien has a simple approach at the plate, which leads to his success.
"He's not a wild swinger, he's pretty controlled," Ventura said. "It looks the same all the time, whether he's going to right field or left field. It's simple, not a lot of movement. That's the stuff that's easier to maintain than somebody that has a lot of movement as far as getting ready to hit and things like that."
Third to first
• Adam Dunn was out of Sunday's lineup for the second straight day, but Ventura said it's nothing more than a couple of days off.
"You can give him a rest, he'll probably play the rest of the way out," Ventura said. "He just looked a little tired and give him a couple of days."
• The White Sox are expecting Dayan Viciedo to return to the team in Toronto on Monday after he went to be with wife as she gave birth to their daughter, Dayana, on Friday.
• Ventura said he hasn't determined the team's rotation after Jose Quintana starts against the Blue Jays on Monday. While the hope is for Andre Rienzo to start on Tuesday, as the blister on his pitching hand is improving, it's still up in the air.
Left-hander Hector Santiago should also make another start this year after the team skipped his last turn in the rotation.
"[Santiago will] get another one here pretty soon," Ventura said. "We'll kind of look at it tomorrow and re-evaluate."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.