James Shields flirts with no-hitter, but White Sox lose to Twins
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For a while, it looked as though the White Sox would get something historic from veteran right-hander James Shields.
They still lost.
Shields took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Sunday, but the Sox fell to the Twins 5-3. He retired the first 16 batters he faced, but the Sox couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead and dropped a season-worst 14 games below .500. They have lost each of their first five home series to start the season.
Shields, whose longest no-hit bid lasted seven innings with the Rays in 2009, said he wasn’t thinking about his chance at history until later in the game. Afterward, his mind was on something else.
‘‘At the end of the day, we had a two-run lead and gave it up,’’ said Shields, who ended up allowing three runs and two hits in 6 2/3 innings. ‘‘It was a good effort, but we came up short. We tried to tie the series right there, and we didn’t get our job done.’’
Shields was perfect through 5 1/3 innings before walking Ehire Adrianza. Then with one out in the seventh, Eduardo Escobar broke up the no-hitter on a single to right-center. That led to a three-run inning that Logan Morrison capped with a two-run double against Luis Avilan.
The Twins then took the lead for good after a pair of miscues by Sox infielders in the eighth.
The first came when second baseman Jose Rondon let a toss from shortstop Tim Anderson on a would-be force get away, allowing Joe Mauer to reach third. The second came when third baseman Yolmer Sanchez picked up a soft grounder by Max Kepler but didn’t look Mauer back to third, allowing him to score and give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
Manager Rick Renteria explained both plays. He said Anderson didn’t get the ball out of his glove as cleanly as he wanted to, affecting what Rondon saw when the toss finally was made. On Sanchez’s play, Renteria said the first reaction should have been to look at Mauer, something Sanchez didn’t do.
‘‘Sanchy, who is as stellar a defender and as astute watching everything and knowing what’s going on . . . the one thing that happens on a softer-hit ball or squibbler is you have to check the runner at third,’’ Renteria said.
In general, the eighth inning was another educational moment for the Sox, who are 3-13 at home and have lost 11 games this season after leading.
‘‘You’re always learning something,’’ Renteria said.
Shields might have taught his young teammates something in his last two starts. On Tuesday in St. Louis, he threw six innings of one-run, two-hit ball. Then Sunday, thanks to a changeup catcher Omar Narvaez called ‘‘filthy,’’ Shields had the Sox’ longest no-hit bid since Jose Quintana also went 6 1/3 innings May 21, 2013, in Boston.
‘‘It’s been feeling pretty good,’’ Shields said of the changeup. ‘‘I’ve been able to throw it a little bit more. If I get ahead in the count, I’m able to throw it a little bit more. I’m getting a good feel for it right now. Hopefully I can keep building off these last two starts.’’
Renteria echoed that, saying Shields is commanding the strike zone. His various arm slots, changes in speeds and movement on his pitches are helping Shields produce like he did Sunday.
‘‘He continues to maybe prove that he’s still capable, obviously, of commanding respect on the diamond and pitching very, very well,’’ Renteria said.