In his second start in a Sox uniform, James Shields wasted no time in making fans miss Erik Johnson. Lead off hitter Ian Kinsler grooved the second pitch of the game into the left field seats and Shields was just getting started. The Tigers would add two more in the first, three in the second, and one more in the third. They would tack on two more as the game progressed to score an insurmountable nine runs.
But surmount they did! The Sox offense proved resilient despite the early hole. They scored six unanswered between the third and fifth innings to bring the game back into contention. In the ninth, down 9-7, the Southsiders pieced together a three hit, two walk rally to even the score at nine and treat the remaining fans to free baseball. Adam Eaton would play hero in the 12th, knocking a grounder through a drawn in infield to score JB Shuck and cap the improbable comeback
Jose Abreu led the charge. In the third he hammered an 84 mph slider over the left-center fence and is now OPS-ing over 1.000 for the month of June. Abreu, Eaton, Cabrera, and Lawrie all reached base at least three times, and, on top of three walks, Dioneer Navarro launched a towering fly that reached low orbit before landing 4 rows deep behind the left field fence.
Unfortunately the Sox defense rediscovered their 2015 form. Fans were treated to a horrifying reminder that Avi Garcia occasionally brings his glove to the ballpark. Playing RF, he managed to bumble a Miguel Cabrera liner into a run scoring “double,” called off Brett Lawrie on a foul pop that landed directly between them, and meekly tracked a lazy foul ball to the right field seats only to watch it drop in front of him. Sox fans have admittedly been spoiled watching Eaton patrol right field, but a few games of Avi makes it feel like a wash. Garcia was hardly alone though. Melky Cabrera had two questionable plays on flyballs, allowing one to drop at his feet and another to bounce past him which would become the Tigers ninth run. And, not to be left out of the fun, James Shields decided to airmail a tailor made double-play ball into centerfield. Shades of 2015. Shades of sadness.
There were no positives to take away from Shields’ start aside from somehow lasting longer than Tigers’ starter, Matt Boyd. Relying on diminished velocity, Shields tried to nibble around the edges while working with the worst pitch framer in baseball. The result was four walks over five innings. When he attacked the zone, hitters had no trouble squaring up on Shields’ stuff as evidenced by nine hits versus one strikeout. Today’s Sox Math: if James Shields gave up six earned runs over five innings today and seven earned runs over two innings last Wednesday, what is his current ERA? Too damn high*
A week ago, the James Shields trade seemed a steal. With the cost of starting pitching on the open market, a dependable workhorse is a valuable asset. However, watching Avi Garcia patrol right field is a grave reminder how much better that money could have been spent over the off season. Cough- Yoenis Cespedes cough Dexter Fowler cough cough.
Robin Ventura may be more admiral than general as a balls and strikes dispute with home plate umpire, Mark Carlson, saw him cursing like a sailor. Fortunately the mics caught it all. The skipper was sent down the tunnel early and missed the Sox’ improbable comeback. Tough day Robin.
*Actually it’s 16.71, which is the mathematical representation of too damn high.
Team Record: 32-32
Lead Photo Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports