Coming into tonight’s game, the Rays and White Sox both entered the contest eliminated from postseason contention. These types of games are deemed meaningless to most players and fans, but tonight Sox starter James Shields had a lot to prove and he did just that.
Since Shields last recorded victory back on July 26th over the Cubs, Shields has posted an atrocious 0-6 record with a 9.42 ERA. He has also allowed 18 HR’s in 45 innings in that span. Shields went head-to-head against the team he called home for 7 seasons in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched very well against his former compadres pitching 6 innings of 1 run ball allowing 7 hits while striking out 7.
That was plenty enough for the Sox offense to take charge against Rays starter Drew Smyly who went 5 innings and allowed 3 runs on 7 hits. Early sacrifice flies from Justin Morneau and Omar Narvaez supported Shields in the early going, and Jose Abreu added some insurance with an infield RBI single to push the lead to 3-1 and record RBI number 98 of the season. A duo of two run homers followed as Justin Morneau turned on a rolling slider into the right field seats in the 7th, and Carlos Sanchez pulled a 97 MPH into the left field bleachers in the 8th to down the Rays.
The Good Guys needed some breathing room.
Morneau was "Justin" time. pic.twitter.com/DdEmOqr44a
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 27, 2016
Shields had won 87 games along with 2 postseason games with Tampa Bay in 7 seasons to go along with a very solid 3.89 ERA. With Shields having a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type season, it is very hard for the Sox front office to gauge on how they should approach Shields going into the offseason. A start like the one he turned in tonight is an encouraging sign if the Sox choose to tender Shields’ option.
The win tonight pushed the White Sox to 75-81 on the season and added on to a now 3 game winning streak after coming off of a 6 game losing streak prior.
Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb (1-1 6.16 ERA) will take the ball in game 2 tomorrow night at 7:10 CT. Cobb will oppose Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale (16-9 3.19 ERA) who continues to try and build upon his already impressive AL Cy Young resumè.