The White Sox spent the day in the headlines as analysts and fans across the country wondered if their situation was hopeless enough to merit selling off all their valuables in hopes of a viable future.
But by nightfall, the vestiges of their once sincere pursuit of the playoffs took centerstage once again, as James Shields continued his recovery tour.
1. Accepting that Shields is in a permanently degraded form and the best that can be hoped for is that he drags his way to competent results, Thursday night was pretty good!
Shields might have lost five pounds in sweat over his six innings, but he reached back and found his best changeup enough to escape damage early, striking out Nick Castellanos with runners on to dodge jams in the first and third innings.
But he also relied on fly ball outs on a hot night in U.S. Cellular Field, and that plan really went on the fritz in the fifth inning. Ian Kinsler drilled a center-cut fastball out to tie the game at 1-1, and right after Cameron Maybin flew out very deep to right, Miguel Cabrera golfed out a high changeup deep to left to give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Shields got through six with just those two runs allowed, and has four-straight quality starts now. A sustainable path for effectiveness is not yet carved out, but he’s returned to the realm of competent major league pitching, and that’s not nothing.
2. The bad news is that this may have been the Sox worst effort against Mike Pelfrey yet, and that’s really something. The big right-hander danced around eight hits in 5.1 innings despite only one strikeout. His only run allowed came when Adam Eaton drilled a double to center that missed leaving the park by a few feet, and came around to score when Tim Anderson chopped a bouncer over Cabrera’s head at first.
What few other scoring opportunities emerged died on the vine. The hope brought by a pair of infield singles to start the second evaporated when Brett Lawrie and J.B. Shuck both jammed themselves for easy popouts. When Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau both reached base with one out in the sixth, the Tigers rescued Pelfrey with Shane Greene, who got Todd Frazier to look foolish chasing low and away and induced a weak grounder from Shuck to strand the bases loaded.
3. And then…that…was pretty much it. The top of the seventh inning got played to no meaningful effect, because after a thunderstorm rolled in and pelted the area for over two hours, the game was called.
The Sox never got to bat in the bottom of the seventh but, goodness, did you hear Rick Hahn Thursday afternoon? Who can imagine caring about this?
4. Brett Lawrie left the game mysteriously in the fourth, prompting suspicion that the teardown had already started, but instead he just tweaked his hamstring.
5. Tim Anderson did this, and maybe that’s all that matters.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 22, 2016
Team Record: 46-49
Next game is Friday at 7:10pm CT on CSN
Lead Image Credit: David Banks // USA Today Sports Images