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Maybe if the White Sox weren’t playing their ninth consecutive road game and the 12th of 13 straight, Rick Renteria wouldn’t have ridden James Shields until he couldn’t. Alas, a two-run homer by Alex Bregman muted the effects of a big rally, and the White Sox are now 0-6 against the defending champs this year.
Then again, even if Shields fared better, the Sox would still have the eighth inning to contend with. It probably just doesn’t matter.
Shields’ start was a testament to the strength of Houston’s offense. He had some of his best stuff of the year, in terms of strikeouts (nine) and swinging strikes (a season-best 20). He had both his slider and his curve working.
When he made a mistake, though, the Astros let him know it. They touched him up for eight runs on 10 hits over 5⅔ innings, including a couple of big blasts. Yuli Gurriel struck the first big blow off him, turning on a hanging slider for a three-run homer that gave the Astros a 4-0 lead after three.
They scratched across two more in the fifth, which didn’t look like much at the time with Charlie Morton rolling for Houston. But when the Sox sprung four on the Astros in the top of the sixth to make it a 6-5 game, Bregman belted a grooved fastball out to left in the bottom of the sixth to restore some of the cushion.
Jace Fry and Juan Minaya then made a mess of things in the eighth.
This uphill climb for the pitching staff is what makes this particular segment of the road trip so exhausting. Under normal circumstances, that sixth-inning rally would’ve been inspiring. Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez teamed up to kickstart an offense for the second time this afternoon. When Moncada was cut down at the plate on a contact play on the second of consecutive fielder’s choices by Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, it could’ve been the end of the inning.
However, Daniel Palka kept the inning alive with a walk, Matt Davidson bounced a single through the vacated right side for an RBI single, and Omar Narvaez chased Morton with an opposite-field double that cleared the bases.
Morton retired the Sox in order the first time through, and had racked up eight strikeouts through four innings, so to send him to the dugout with a subpar line at the end of his 101 pitches would ordinarily be something to build on. But then there are at least three innings remaining, giving one the idea that the Sox offense will not have done nearly enough.
*Kyle Tucker made his debut for Houston and struck out his first three times. But he got two more chances, and he singled and scored in the seventh, and walked to drive in a run in the eighth.
*Garcia added a solo shot in the top of the eighth to make it a 9-6 game, as he continues to rip the ball. Abreu went 0-for-4, as he continues to show little at the plate.
*Angel Hernandez’s strike zone confused both teams, and he also called a balk on James Shields.
Record: 30-59 | Box score