The White Sox are contractually committed to James Shields through 2018, he is unmovable in his current state, and they have plenty of reasons for being invested in his recovery, whatever potential for it there may still be.
But as each disaster piles on top of each other, they will be pressed to answer if they are truly moving toward that goal by shoving Shields out to the wolves every five days for the rest of 2016. Not that they have a ton of alternatives. Anthony Ranaudo starts Sunday.
1. After two days already of Brian Dozier entering high fastballs from White Sox pitching into orbit, Shields floated him another in the first, and his thunderous clout erased an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. When Carlos Sanchez gave Shields the lead back by rapping an RBI single to left in the second, Shields answered by chucking a high-80s fastball up in the zone for a two-run blast to the second deck in deep left-center from Byron Buxton. As much hopelessness as was implied by the beginning of Shields’ night, his third inning was beyond the pale, beginning with a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe–he walked the leadoff hitter in all three innings he began–and was quickly followed by a third deck moonshot on another dead fastball to Miguel Sano.
After following that blast with a walk to Eddie Rosario, Shields’ evening ended with five runs allowed, four walks and three home runs in 2.1 innings. He’s allowed more runs in some starts since arriving in Chicago, but Shields was utterly hopeless Saturday night. There was no hope for him to get through a major league order with any consistency. Surely other people saw this.
2. Just as an addendum, any lingering optimism for Jacob Turner as a short reliever got a thorough torching as he tried to put out Shields’ fire. A throwing error by Todd Frazier on a Dozier ground brought home a run and extended the disastrous inning, but the only out Turner otherwise got on his own was when Rosario was thrown out at a home on a Juan Centeno single, so they split the difference, really. Plouffe hammered a hanging 3-2 slider out to center for a three-run home run that capped a six-run, zero earned-run appearance for Turner, and gave the Twins all the runs they would need. Given that it was 11-2, maybe it was a bit more than they needed
3. Adam Eaton blasting a leadoff home run to left off old friend Hector Santiago gave some early false hope of a good night, and after Sanchez singled home a run with two outs and advanced to second on a throw home while Alex Avila settled in at third, the Sox were a Eaton lineout finding turf away from a big inning in the second. Despite Santiago noticeably missing miles on his fastball, Tim Anderson was stranded at second after clocking a leadoff double off the wall in the third, and the Sox did not reach base again until Melky Cabrera led off the sixth with a booming solo shot to left. At that point, it all felt a little silly going through the motions.
4. Michael Ynoa is pictured because by finishing the nightmarish third inning, and stringing together two more scoreless innings while striking out four, he was by far the standout performer of the night. Perhaps he can be the next hopeful reliever the Sox can start piling opportunities upon. Juan Minaya also contributed two scoreless innings of his own in the second game of his career
5. The White Sox are now 21-34 against AL Central competition.
Team Record: 64-71
Next game is Sunday at 12:10pm CT at Minnesota on WGN
Lead Image Credit: Jeffrey Becker // USA Today Sports Images