A combination of a team still desperately holding on to Wild Card dreams and another muggy night in Chicago didn't exactly instill confidence that James Shields would perform well. Snapping a six-game losing streak in last night's win at Houston, the Los Angeles Angels came in tow with their big boppers Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols primed to deliver damage.
Instead, the now crafty sidewinder Shields kept the Angels to just two runs over seven innings while striking out eight as the White Sox won 4-2. Good news for the Minnesota Twins as their magic number to clinching the final playoff spot is now just two games.
The White Sox jumped on Ricky Nolasco and the Angels early in the first inning. Yolmer Sanchez lead things off with a single to center. Tim Anderson carrying a 15-game hitting streak to tonight hit a slowish chopper to all-world shortstop, Andrelton Simmons. Unlike himself, Simmons made an awkward toss to Brandon Phillips at second base that was off target and went into right field. That allowed both Sanchez and Anderson to advance into scoring position with no outs.
Then Avisail Garcia's fly ball to right field wasn't deep enough to score Sanchez. Next was Matt Davidson who hit a chopper to third base and Sanchez couldn't outrun the throw from Luis Valbuena to home plate. Quickly there were two outs and runners on the corners. Looking to escape the jam, Nolasco left a hanging breaking ball to Nicky Delmonico. Just missing hitting a three-run homer by a foot, Delmonico's deep fly ricochet off the wall for his third double of 2017 scoring both Anderson and Davidson.
Up 2-0 in the second, the Angels got one run back thanks to catcher Martin Maldonado. After Simmons singled and Valbuena walked, Maldonado hit a Kansas City special down the left field line that Delmonico couldn't glove in time. Simmons scored to cut the lead to 2-1. The threat ended with a Kole Calhoun ground out to Davidson at first base.
The White Sox got that run back in the third thanks to a missed sliding catch attempt by Justin Upton on Avisail Garcia's line drive. When Upton tried to catch the quickly sinking liner sliding feet first, he completely missed the ball, and it rolled to the wall. Easily a double, Avi decided to stretch into a triple and beat out Trout's throw to third. His fifth triple of 2017, Avi would score on Davidson's sacrifice fly to center putting the Sox up 3-1.
Trout would make it a one-run game in the fifth inning with an anticipating mammoth blast off Shields. On 3-2, Shields tried to spin a slider into the zone, but it never got the break, and it was practically set up on a tee for the two-time MVP. Trout took it deep to center field as it bounced off the bleachers and onto the outfield concourse. Trout's 30th home run of 2017 made it 3-2.
In the bottom half, Avi grounded out to Simmons at short and came up limping after running through first base. Manager Rick Renteria pulled Avi out of the game as the Sox are already dealing with lower leg injuries to Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu. Rymer Liriano replaced Avi in right field and helped the Sox extend the lead to two again in the sixth. After Delmonico laced an opposite-field single, Liriano did the same to right field putting runners on first and second with no outs. That chased Nolasco from the game which finished his night 5 IP 7 H 4 R 2 ER 1 BB 4 K.
Reliever Jose Alvarez replaced Nolasco as he faced Sox catcher, Omar Narvaez. Trying to lay down the sacrifice bunt, Narvaez popped up the attempt as the pitch was high and inside. Falling towards the third base line, Angels first baseman C.J. Cron dove to make the catch and almost took out Alvarez in the process. After that near disaster, manager Mike Scioscia called for Blake Wood to face Tyler Saladino.
That move didn't pay off as Saladino walked on four pitches to load the bases with only one out for Adam Engel. Wood was able to induce a ground ball from Engel to Valbuena at third, but Brandon Phillips at second couldn't turn the double play. Engel's speed earned him a RBI as Delmonico scored making it 4-2.
After Trout's home run, Shields retired the next seven batters he saw ending with an impressive line of 7 IP 4 H 2 ER 2 BB 8 K. The trio of Aaron Bummer, Gregory "Lights Out" Infante, and Juan Minaya closed it out for Shields to earn his fifth win of 2017.
Record: 64-92 | Box Score