James Shields has pitched well all year to minimal reward, at least reward in terms of pitcher wins and losses, which is like a worthless currency that only a small, insular segment of the population treats like gold. Coming into Friday night’s lightly-attended tilt at U.S. Cellular Field, Shields was 4-7 despite a 3.24 ERA.
It simply wasn’t right. No pitcher should be allowed to display such skill and go so deep into games without getting some sort of tangible reward that they can take to their arbitration hearing. The White Sox understood this and resolved themselves to help their besieged friend James Shi–
Oh heeeeeeey, Jose Quintana! Didn’t see you there!
A solo shot, U.S. Cellular wall-scraper home run to David Lough, and a double just fair inside the left field line to Salvador Perez, followed by a sacrifice fly to the weakest arm in the outfield, were all Quintana allowed over seven innings of work, but he dropped to 5-3 despite reducing his ERA to 3.55 in a miserable 5-1 defeat. Shields three seven shutout innings.
With Alejandro De Aza gettting picked off first base to pad his league lead in outs of the basepaths, Casper Wells dropping a routine fly ball while serving a defensive replacement and Alexei Ramirez seeming to be generally aloof–all the normal accoutrements of a last-place baseball team were nicely arranged, but the White Sox actually had opportunities to break things open in an affair that was 1-0 for a long stretch of time.
Three years ago, many would have killed for a state of affairs where Gordon Beckham had emerged as one of, if not the most effective offensive contributor. Tasked with the three most significant run-scoring opportunities of the night, Beckham looked every bit the part, cranking vicious line drives to deep center field that slid every so peacefully into Lorenzo Cain‘s glove to end the second and fourth innings.
When another two-out RBI situation presented itself to Beckham, with Dayan Viciedo and Adam Dunn in scoring position with two out in the seventh, he hid himself from further heartbreak, and worked a full count walk. Josh Phegley, still rippling with eagerness, bounced the first pitch he saw to Mike Moustakas, and that was that. The Sox never had another baserunner.
Conor Gillaspie saved the squad from another shutout by pulling a ball just into the Bullpen Sports Bar in right with two outs in the eighth inning. The solo shot served as the only extra-base hit of the night for the home team, and momentarily halved the deficit until Matt Lindstrom came in for the top half of the ninth, hung some sliders, allowed four-straight Royals to reach and did his best to torch his trade value in allowing three earned runs while recording no outs.
David Purcey came on did his best to stop the bleeding, and would have had a perfect inning of work if Wells had not dropped a routine fly ball. Up 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Royals felt comfortable using Luke Hochevar to close things out, and sure enough, he got three groundouts on four pitches.
Such an effort at the close of a game did little to dismiss perceptions that this lifeless, divested White Sox team is just waiting for a sell-off.
Team Record: 40-60
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