Shields’ struggles continue as White Sox fall to A’s 9-0

SHARE Shields’ struggles continue as White Sox fall to A’s 9-0

James Shields reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Khris Davis during the third inning of the A’s 9-0 win over the White Sox. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

The boos started early and only got louder the longer James Shields labored.

A bases-loaded walk led to a two-run homer. The two-run homer led to two more home runs and a month that had already started badly for the struggling Shields only got worse.

And fast.

By the time it was over, four White Sox pitchers had surrendered nine runs while the Sox offense collected only two hits in a 9-0 loss to the A’s Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Sox managed only two hits off of A’s starter Kendall Graveman, who threw a complete game and retired 14 straight hitters between Jose Abreu’s single in the second inning and Adam Eaton’s single in the seventh.

“All the way around, it wasn’t a good night for us,” manager Robin Ventura said.

But as has become the case in August, Shields was at the center of another frustrating Sox loss.

Shields yielded three home runs and six earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings. Of the frames he worked, only two were easy. A 1-2-3 first inning made for a solid start.

But when two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the second inning with two outs, Shields’ inability to make a pitch when he needed to haunted him.

A bases-loaded walk to No. 9 hitter Max Muncy started the ball rolling in the wrong direction. After Shields gave up a two-run homer to Khris Davis in the third inning, he eased through the fourth and quickly recorded two quick outs in the fifth.

But in a microcosm of his struggles this season, Shields appeared to be on the verge of surviving. But on the cusp of escape, the bottom fell out, leaving Shields to shake his head in disbelief.

“The thing is, I feel good out there,” Shields said. “I’m just not making my pitches.”

With two outs in the fifth, Shields surrendered a solo home run to Stephen Vogt before yielding a double to Davis, whose two-run homer earlier gave the A’s a 3-0 lead. Yonder Alonso followed Davis’ double with a two-run homer that extended the deficit to six runs.

A Shields walk to Marcus Semien extended the inning before Ryon Healy reached on a Tim Anderson error that allowed Semien to score.

With that, Shields’ night was finished and marked his fourth straight outing of giving up at least six runs.

“It’s so frustrating to me,” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “I’m trying to get the guy to help us out because I know he can. I guess everything is going wrong.”

After a strong July suggested Shields may have been close to putting his forgettable start with the Sox behind him, an ugly August has allowed those memories to resurface.

This month alone, Shields has allowed 27 earned runs and nine home runs in 14 innings. He’s given up 33 hits, walked eight and struck out five, which isn’t exactly the kind of numbers the Sox can afford from one of their starters while facing double-digit deficits in the chase for both a division title and a wild card berth.

Navarro believes Shields has the ability to reverse course, much like he did last month when Shields showed flashes of his “Big Game James” persona.

But less than a month later, Shields is again trying to rediscover his former self. The Sox are left to wait for it to happen.

“He’s had the roughest stretch when he first got here and he seemed to calm those waters and figure it out,” Ventura said. “He has the ability to do that.”

If and when that happens, however, remains the question.

“I need to finish strong,” said Shields, who is 3-8 with the Sox. “I’m not helping this team out right now, so I need to do my job and get better and move on.”

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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