Phillies 5, White Sox 3: A non-humiliating Shields loss

Recently, James Shields had been sliding back to his old habits of getting completely annihilated while pitching in a White Sox uniform. Coming into Wednesday night, Shields had allowed six earned runs in each of his August starts, given up nine home runs in 14 innings of work, only lasted 14 innings in four starts, been crushed for an amazing 33 hits, walked eight while striking out five, and compiled a 17.36 ERA over that stretch.

In that light, Shields wasn’t that bad Wednesday.

He was still sort of bad, though, and the Sox lost, no thanks in part.

1. Holding the Sox to a mere 3-0 deficit in the sixth, Shields was one out–nay, one strike–away from the platonic ideal of a quality start: six innings, three earned runs. Instead, Shields hung an 0-2 curve to Tommy Joseph, and crumpled into a crouch as it flew out to left-center behind him. Just for good measure and the proper level of knife-twisting, it wound up being the decisive run of the game when the Sox ninth-inning rally died at 5-3, and it made sure the garish 2.58 HR/9 he game into the game with improbably went up.

2. After twirling a perfect first inning–second start in a row–Shields ran into trouble in the second, with two outs and the bottom of the order coming for him. Joseph bashed a double, Aaron Altherr sprayed an RBI single to right, and Freddy Galvis plated him as well with line drive to right-center that Adam Eaton let roll past him in center.

Not done, Shields allowed Cesar Hernandez to flip an elevated 91 mph fastball out to the opposite field and into the bullpen in left to lead off the third. Otherwise, Shields was, flashing competence? He spun some nice curves on the night, struck out six and walked none, and had enough legit reason for confidence in the pitch that you can understand how he found himself hanging one to Joseph at the end of the sixth. Once you get over his constant vulnerability to getting crushed at any given moment, it was one of his stronger efforts.

3. Despite the lack of swing-and-miss stuff or top velocity, Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff faced the minimum number of Sox hitters through five innings, with an Eaton single erased by a double play in the fourth being his only baserunner early on. Like Shields, however, he seemed to get unraveled by the bottom of the Sox order. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth with a single, and came home when Dioner Navarro blasted a center-cut fastball out to right for his first home run since July 4. The outburst made it a game again, and chased Eickhoff after six even though he was only at 71 pitches.

4. After an improbable scoreless inning of work from Matt Albers, Dan Jennings was brought into the eighth solely to face Ryan Howard, and gave up a single to right. Tommy Kahnle took over to add some right-handed firepower, and promptly walked Cameron Rupp, and allowed Altherr to rip an insurance-run scoring single to left to bring home pinch-runner Emmanuel Burriss. Letting Howard bat against the lefty doesn’t seem much more sane than allowing him to run, but the Phillies chose right in each case.

5. It wound up only looking and feeling bad, because the Sox rally in the ninth against Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez could only get so close. After Jose Abreu drilled a single to keep his on-base streak alive at 20 games, Todd Frazier worked a two-out walk, and Garcia hung back and sprayed a hanger down the right-field line to plate Abreu. Those heroics brought Navarro back to the plate with the tying run on base and the chance to have his moment of the season, but a weak grounder second ended it.


Team Record: 60-65

Next game is Thursday at 7:10pm CT vs. Seattle on CSN


Lead Image Credit: Mike Dinovo // USA Today Sports Images

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