Sometimes, the best team in baseball has one of those days where they play like the best team in baseball. And if that day happens to be a day where you come to town and face them, you’re in deep, deep trouble.
That’s exactly what happened to the White Sox on Saturday afternoon, where James Shields and the bullpen fell victim to the Houston Astros’ offensive onslaught in a 12-6 defeat.
Shields battled through some tough spots and did a few good things (I’ll get to the bad stuff in a second). His 68 miles per hour curveball was working well and producing swings and misses and he ruined the debut of Astros top prospect Kyle Tucker. While he played a part in the Astros’ success later in the game, he went down on strikes three times in three at bats against the veteran right hander.
For everybody not named Kyle Tucker, it was a different story against Shields. In five and two thirds innings, he allowed eight runs, including two towering home runs to deep left field from Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman.
The bullpen didn’t help very much, as Rick Renteria first brought in Bruce Rondon, who proceeded to do Bruce Rondon things. Jace Fry was far from perfect as well and Juan Minaya was downright dreadful, walking the first two Astros he faced for yet another run.
The pitching ruined what was a fairly solid day for Chicago’s offensive production. Down 6-1, the South Siders put up a four spot in the sixth inning to bring the deficit to within one. Yoan Moncada singled and Yolmer Sanchez walked to begin the frame. A couple batters later, Daniel Palka drew a base on balls as well. Matt Davidson singled home a run and then Omar Narvaez cleared the bases with a double to the left center field gap.
Narvaez was one of two White Sox, along with Moncada, who had multi-hit games. Charlie Morton was the starter for the Astros, and he pitched very well up until that sixth inning. It was clear that manager AJ Hinch left him in too long and he lost his control before Narvaez’s double.
Avisail Garcia tacked on yet another long ball to continue his hot power streak, but by then the White Sox were trailing by four runs in the eighth and it was too little, too late.
Tomorrow, the White Sox will look to salvage at least one game against Houston this season, as the Astros trot out Dallas Keuchel to face Lucas Giolito. Houston has absolutely dominated Chicago this year and today was no different.
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