James Shields’ tenure with the White Sox hasn’t gone well, but Monday was one of the bright spots. And it came against his former team.
Shields didn’t exactly keep the visiting Tampa Bay Rays off base, but he kept them mostly off the scoreboard, allowing just one run over his six innings of work as the White Sox won the first game of a four-game set, 7-1, at U.S. Cellular Field.
For just the third time since the beginning of August, Shields allowed two or fewer runs, and he did against Tampa Bay, with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career.
Shields didn’t exactly make it easy on himself, putting multiple base runners on in four of his six innings, but just one run scored from all of those jams. He finished with a line of one run on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings. The win was Shields’ first since July 26, his sixth of the season and only his fourth since joining the White Sox at the beginning of June.
But getting into jams wasn’t unique to Shields, with relievers Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones starting the seventh and eighth innings by putting the first two runners on. But double plays in each of those frames helped the pitchers escape unscathed. The White Sox infield turned four double plays on the night.
As far as the offenses went, the White Sox struck first with a run in the first. Melky Cabrera doubled with one out and scored two batters later on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly.
The Rays tied the game in the fourth, Curt Casali singling home Jaff Decker to make it 1-1. But the White Sox struck back in the bottom of that same inning, with Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly plating Todd Frazier, who led off the inning with a double and stole third base, his team-leading 15th swipe of the season. The White Sox got another run an inning later when Jose Abreu singled in Leury Garcia.
But the real insurance came in the later innings, when Justin Morneau followed an Abreu walk in the seventh with a two-run home run to right field, boosting the White Sox lead to 5-1, and Carlos Sanchez bashed a two-run shot in the eighth to make it a 7-1 game.
The win was the White Sox third straight, their second set of three consecutive wins this month.
Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.
As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.
“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”
Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.
“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”