Just what did the White Sox get in James Shields?
For the second time in as many outings with the Sox and for the third straight time including his final start with the San Diego Padres before he was traded, Shields got hit all over the ballpark Monday night.
This time it was the visiting Detroit Tigers, who greeted Shields with a leadoff homer from Ian Kinsler in a three-run first inning, tacked on three more in the second and another in the third to open a 7-0 lead. Shields did produce two scoreless innings after that – his first as a Sox – but still.
The Sox rallied back to tie in the ninth on RBI singles from Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia and won 10-9 in the 12th on Adam Eaton’s RBI single to center against Anibal Sanchez. J.B. Shuck led off the inning with a double and was bunted to third by Tim Anderson.
Eaton was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.
“It’s huge,” Eaton said. “We have to get propelled in some way, shape or form and games like this can do that.”
How big was the comeback? The last time the Sox overcame a deficit of seven or more runs to win was June 28, 2002 in a 13-9 win over the Cubs. The Sox trailed 8-0 in that one.
Here was Shields’ latest awful line against the Tigers: Five innings, nine hits, seven runs (six earned), four walks, one strikeout. His throwing error, a contribution to a shaky body of defensive work overall by the Sox, accounted for the unearned run.
Here are Shields’ two-start totals for the Sox: Seven innings, 17 hits, 14 runs (13 earned), six walks, three strikeouts. And his numbers over his last three outings: 9 2/3 innings, 25 hits, 24 runs, 10 walks, four strikeouts.
Before that, Shields, an accomplished 34-year-old veteran and former All-Star, had pitched to 3.06 ERA in 10 starts for the Padres.
So what’s up? Why were frustrated Sox fans thinking goofy thoughts like ‘maybe John Danks wasn’t all that bad, after all?’
Shields blamed it on his fastball command, saying it improved as his outing went on. Asked if he was surprised at his three bad outings, he said “I guess ‘surprised’ would be the word. I’m obviously going through a stretch here. But I can build off those last couple innings. All I know is I have to move forward and continue to grind.”The Sox kept grinding in this one, battling back from a 7-0 deficit that had “just another loss” written all over it. “The most important thing was the guys were just trying to have good at-bats and keep chipping away,” said bench coach Rick Renteria, who took over for manager Robin Ventura after Ventura was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh inning.“We overcame a couple things that happened early and kept playing the game.”
“Being a fan of baseball never gets old,” Shields said. “Watching these guys grind to the end was something special to watch. The vibe in the clubhouse since I’ve got here has been amazing. These guys want it.”
The Sox were in desperation mode to win, having lost 14 of 18 games and 22 of 30 and needing a win to climb back to .500. They’ll need Jose Abreu’s bat if they have designs on climbing above .500 and he continued to warm up with his two-run homer against left-hander Matt Boyd that put the Sox on the board in the third and and RBI single bringing in one of three Sox runs in the fifth. Dioner Navarro homered in the fourth, and Todd Frazier drove in a run with a groundout and Brett Lawrie singled in another in the fifth.
Eaton scored Navarro with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, bringing the Sox within 8-7.
The U.S. Cellular Field crowd of 16,314, which had booed Shields as it had in his Sox debut against the Washington Nationals, was brought back to life.
The Sox must show life to keep the heat off Ventura and stop the line of questioning that players are being asked to confront more and more.
“He’s his own manager. He’s done a heck of a job for us putting us in a position to win,’’ Eaton said before the game. “As players we haven’t really came through here recently. And I think it all really boils down to player performance. It has nothing to do with him.
“It’s our job to go out and produce and when we don’t it looks bad on him.’’