White Sox

White Sox lose to Tigers in rain-shortened game

White Sox lose to Tigers in rain-shortened game

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.

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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.

[MORE: 'Mired in mediocrity,' White Sox open to anything at trade deadline]

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.”

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: