Astros 12, White Sox 6: The road trip is almost over

Rick Renteria rides his starter to avoid a bullpen beating, but the bullpen still gets beat up

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.

Bullet points:

*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

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3791
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Trooper Galactus

Strike zones may vary, but Angel Hernandez sucking at his job remains a constant from season to season.

MrTopaz

Went and saw Ant Man 2 this afternoon. Looks like I missed a real scorcher. Hope Avi is somewhere between what we’re seeing now and what we saw last year. Minus yesterday’s catching gaffe, which I attribute to not wanting to slam on the brakes with his iffy leg.

The Wimperoo

Avi seems far less than 100 percent.

sgp2204

Heck, I’m just happy Moncada hasn’t looked completely lost against this excellent pitching staff. He was finally starting to heat up before this series, and I absolutely expected the worst coming into this weekend. Maybe he’s making some real strides – just in time to let the All-Star break cool him off. Fantastic. 

Trooper Galactus

Actually, I think the mental break could be good for him. He has momentum going into the break, so a brief rest while his confidence is high could be a good thing.

Lurker Laura

What’s up with Jose? We seem beyond a normal slump now. Injury?

GrinnellSteve

I’m now ready to seriously consider offers for him. Could we package him with Soria? Is there any market at all?

NDSox12

Eh, no sense in selling low on him. If they are going to trade him at all, which I doubt, they’ll want to wait until he’s hitting well again.

GrinnellSteve

I wouldn’t sell low on him, but if someone makes a worthy offer based on his track record, I’d consider it.