White Sox

Twins hit three homers off James Shields, rout White Sox

Twins hit three homers off James Shields, rout White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins made quick work of James Shields on Saturday night.

Shields allowed three more home runs and lasted only 2 1/3 innings as the White Sox were routed 11-3 in front of 22,274 at Target Field. Brian Dozer, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano all homered off Shields, who has a 7.50 ERA in 84 innings for the White Sox this season. Trevor Plouffe also homered for the Twins, who put the game out of reach with an eight-run third inning against Shields and Jacob Turner, who allowed six unearned runs.

Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera both homered for the White Sox.

“The way they were hitting homers tonight, it wasn’t good for us,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s a tough one, even with Jacob coming in there. He’s pitched better for us. I know he can pitch better than that. These guys on the other side, they’ve hit a lot of homers against us. We haven’t been able to solve Dozier or Plouffe.

“They’ve been hitting a lot of homers.”

It couldn’t have started much as Eaton blasted a solo homer off ex-White Sox pitcher Hector Santiago to start the game. The homer was Eaton’s 12th of the season.

But Dozier wiped it out with a leadoff homer (his 34th) for the Twins, who also overcame another deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second inning on a two-run shot by Buxton that traveled 448 feet, according to MLB.com.

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Sano’s drive, a 438-foot blast to left, was the 26th surrendered by Shields since the White Sox acquired him from the San Diego Padres in June. Shields allowed five earned runs and five hits with four walks in 2 1/3 innings.

White Sox trainer Herm Schneider visited Shields to check on his tight back after he issued a one-out walk to start the third inning. Shields remained in the game. But Ventura said afterward the back had tightened a little on Shields, who said he felt it before the game.

Shields said he doesn’t think his back “will be a big deal.”

“It grabbed on me in the last inning there,” Shields said. “I wasn’t feeling too hot before the game, but once the game started getting going, I was fine. Then it just kind of grabbed me in the last inning there in the beginning of the inning in warm-ups and for a couple of pitches there.

“It was nothing out of the ordinary. We all get sore once in a while, but the third inning in the warm-ups, it kind of grabbed on me a little bit.

“I’ll just rest up a couple of days and see what happens.”

Michael Ynoa, Juan Minaya and Tommy Kahnle combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings pitched for the White Sox.

Jose Abreu’s consecutive games streak of reaching base ended at 29.

Santiago improved to 3-0 against his former team with three earned runs allowed in six innings.

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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