James Shields did his part yet again on Thursday night.
His teammates didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain.
The rain didn’t help, either.
But the White Sox still had plenty of early chances against Mike Pelfrey and the Detroit Tigers and couldn’t make it work. In spite of a third straight strong start, Shields took the loss as the White Sox fell 2-1 to the Detroit Tigers in a rain-shortened contest in front of 24,938 at U.S. Cellular Field. The game was called after 6 1/2 innings, dropping the White Sox to 2-8 in their last 10 games.
“Sometimes doing your job isn’t going to get the job done,” said Shields, who allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.
Shields did more than enough to keep the White Sox within striking distance of the Tigers just five weeks after they knocked him around. He pitched out of two jams in the first four innings before Detroit finally broke though in the fifth.
Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a solo homer on a 3-2 fastball from Shields to tie the score at 1. Two batters later, Miguel Cabrera took advantage of a 2-1 changeup that was up in the zone for another solo homer to put the Tigers ahead.
Other than that, Shields pitched well. He struck out Nick Castellanos with two aboard to end a first-inning rally and again in the third to end a bases-loaded jam. Shields also retired the side in order in the second, fourth and sixth innings.
The outing continued a string of strong efforts from the right-hander, who had a 21.81 ERA after his first three turns with the White Sox. One of those was a June 13 effort in which the Tigers got to Shields for seven runs (six earned) with nine hits and four walks in five innings.
Over his last five starts, Shields has a 2.09 ERA in 34 1/3 innings.
“He seems over the hump,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Those first games were tough. I think he came here, a lot of expectations and got beat around a little bit, and it was tough to get your feet and take a breath and kind of figure it out. And right now, he's back to the guy that we figured we were getting.”
It hasn’t been easy to determine which White Sox offense plans to show up on a daily basis.
One day they produce, the next they don’t.
The White Sox had plenty of chances early against Pelfrey, but came up empty.
They took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on Tim Anderson’s RBI single to right to score Adam Eaton, who earlier doubled. But Anderson’s hit was the sixth in the game’s first 11 batters and yet the White Sox failed to take advantage.
Pelfrey ended a second-inning jam with three straight pop outs after Justin Morneau and Todd Frazier singled consecutively. He also induced a double play off Melky Cabrera’s bat in the third to wipe out Anderson’s run-scoring single.
No missed chance proved bigger than the sixth though. Down 2-1, the White Sox got a one-out single from Jose Abreu and Morneau walked. That brought in Shane Greene, who struck out Todd Frazier. After he hit Tyler Saladino to load the bases, Greene retired J.B. Shuck on a weak grounder to strand three and maintain Detroit’s lead.
The White Sox hoped to have another chance once the game resumed. They would have had Dioner Navarro, Eaton and Anderson due in the bottom of the seventh. But the opportunity didn’t materialize and instead the White Sox left the park with only themselves to blame for another tough-to-swallow defeat.
“It’s a difficult stretch for us, but at the end of the day, you have to be a professional and move on,” Eaton said. “Nobody is going to help us but ourselves. We found another way to lose a ballgame today in a little bit different scenario. I don’t really agree with it. I want to stay here until we finish the game.
“We need to start moving in the right direction, and we need to start winning ballgames. It’s getting to that point of the season where it’s put up or shut up, so we need to do it and get it done.”