ANAHEIM, Calif. — James Shields allowed two hits on Saturday evening and lost.
That’s the sad and sorry state of the White Sox offense this week, feeble and incapable of scoring a run.
The White Sox were shut out for a third straight game on Saturday night and the offense’s scoreless streak now stands at 32 innings after a 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in front of 39,620 at Angel Stadium. The White Sox couldn’t convert in the ninth inning with the tying run on third base and one out as Matt Shoemaker struck out Todd Frazier and Justin Morneau to preserve a six-hit shutout. Shoemaker struck out 13 and the White Sox lost for the fourth time in five games despite Shields allowing one run in a complete-game effort.
“You wear it if it’s just one game, let alone three,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We’ve got to figure out.
“It’s surprising in the big leagues when it goes this long.”
The White Sox offense has begun to produce some nasty numbers, the type that makes you want to close the book and never open it again.
They haven’t scored since the third inning last Saturday in a victory over the Atlanta Braves, which marks the fourth-longest scoreless streak in franchise history.
In that span, they’ve been handled by Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz, Los Angeles’ Hector Santiago and now Shoemaker. The trio has combined for 16 hits allowed and 30 strikeouts in 23 scoreless innings. It’s the first time the White Sox have been shut out in three straight games since June 1968.
The White Sox, who face Jered Weaver on Sunday, are also now just seven innings shy of the longest-scoreless streak in franchise history, which was set May 22-26, 1968. The loss dropped the White Sox to 45-45.
“We need to start making a push and put ourselves in a good position in the standings,” outfielder Adam Eaton said. “This is crunch time and its kind of gut-check time. We need to get out of this and be better. We need to be better in all facets. It starts with our offense.”
There was no better opportunity for the White Sox to end their maddening ways than in the ninth when Eaton doubled to left center off Shoemaker. Not only was Shoemaker over 100 pitches, he was facing the meat of the White Sox lineup for the fourth time.
“You get these guys to see (him) that many times, you figure you’ve got a shot,” Ventura said.
Jose Abreu fell behind in the count early but worked it full.
But the slugger, who doubled twice earlier, grounded out to shortstop, which kept Eaton at second. That became even more consequential when Melky Cabrera singled sharply to left field and Eaton could only advance to third. Todd Frazier then swung at two pitches out of the zone to strike out for the third time in four at-bats before Shoemaker struck out Justin Morneau, who hit the ball hard in his earlier at-bats.
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Instead of being let off the hook or perhaps even rewarded with a late victory, Shields settled for a difficult loss. He allowed a leadoff triple to Yunel Escobar to start the game and the run eventually scored on a Mike Trout RBI groundout. But from there, Shields — who allowed two hits and walked two — settled in and retired 22 of the next 25 batters he faced. Starting with his June 23 outing in Boston, Shields has a 2.43 ERA over his last 33.1 innings.
It didn’t matter.
“Coming off that All-Star break, it’s always nice to pitch well,” Shields said. “But my main focus is to win ballgames. I don’t care if I throw eight innings and give up one run — we lose, I’ve gotta pitch better.
“Sometimes that’s the way the game goes. This is a crazy game. I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff happen. Hopefully the baseball starts swinging back our way.”