Less frustration, more production for White Sox’ Gavin Sheets

Sheets homers, but Sox don’t do much else as Lucas Giolito struggles in series-opening loss to Tigers.

SHARE Less frustration, more production for White Sox’ Gavin Sheets
White Sox’ Gavin Sheets is greeted in the dugout after his solo home run against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

White Sox’ Gavin Sheets is greeted in the dugout after his solo home run against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

Carlos Osorio/AP

DETROIT — Gavin Sheets had reached a boiling point. The White Sox were off to a lousy start, and he wasn’t playing as much as he felt he deserved.

As the lefty-hitting outfielder/first baseman put it, “the frustration of not playing” and helping a team he believes can win was maddening.

“It’s great to be in the big leagues, but I want to be an every-day guy,” said Sheets, who didn’t play in four straight games in mid-April, three of them Sox losses. “It was tough watching things go on and not feeling like I was helping the guys out in any way.”

A pinch home run in a loss to the Rays on April 22 started a stretch of regular playing time for Sheets, who has five homers in his last 15 games, including a solo blast inside the right-field pole against Tigers starter Alex Faedo (1-2) in a 7-2 loss Thursday night at Comerica Park.

“I’m just trying to be a piece of the lineup that can do some damage and help this team win,” Sheets said.

He’ll have to keep producing to make decisions tough on manager Pedro Grifol when Eloy Jimenez returns from his rehab assignment soon. Grifol will have Jimenez and Sheets to choose from in right field. At designated hitter, he’ll have Jimenez, Sheets and Jake Burger, who singled, stole the first base of his career and scored on Tim Anderson’s single Thursday. Recent addition Clint Frazier is also in the mix, but Sheets provides punch from the left side of the plate.

“It will be interesting,” Sheets said. “I’m happy I won’t be the one making those decisions, because there will be tough decisions to be made. It’s a good problem to have when a lot of guys are swinging that well.”

Sox starter Lucas Giolito (3-4) had problems of the worst kind in a loss that dropped the Sox to 21-31 in the first game of an important four-game series against a division opponent. He walked seven in four-plus innings and felt fortunate to be charged with only four runs in one of the worst starts of his career.

“Never thought I’d be walking seven guys in a game — it’s unacceptable,” Giolito said. “Team is going good, I want to set the series off on the right start. Did that in the first inning, but lost feel and didn’t get it back.”

After striking out Zach McKinstry and Javy Baez on three pitches each to start the game and striking out the side in the first, Giolito lost his command, escaping trouble twice with double plays, one thanks to Riley Greene’s base-running blunder to end a scoreless third. But Akil Baddoo homered to start a four-run fourth that included a two-run single by Baez.

Giolito had pitched to a 2.66 ERA in his previous eight starts, lasting six or more innings in each one.

“It’s one of those ones [where] I could dive into it and get analytical, but I’d rather just flush it and move on,” he said.

It came after Sox starters had posted a 2.37 ERA in the previous 13 games.

“Starting staff’s been doing a fantastic job until I screwed that up today,” Giolito said. “I have nothing but amazing things to say about the whole starting group, what guys have been working through behind the scenes and setting the tone and pitching deep into games.”

The bullpen also has been good (1.99 ERA in 15 games), but lefties Garrett Crochet and Aaron Bummer gave up a combined three runs.

Sheets was the only hitter to have success against Faedo, who struck out a career-high 10 while walking none in six innings.

“He used both sides of the plate and kept us off our toes,” Sheets said. “I was fortunate to get a hold of one and keep it fair.”

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