OK, so, South Side Sox would like to formally apologize for suggesting last night that Carlos Rodón “tamed” Mike Trout with two strikeouts.
But then, gulp, it’s only fair to point out that Trout had some easier pickings in this win, battering Big Game James Shields with a first-inning homer and Chris Volstad with a three-run clout in the sixth.
With the off-day on Monday, Shields won’t get another start before the trade deadline on July 31, so if the White Sox are hoping for anything more than a bag of baseballs in return for the veteran, it might not happen. Wednesday’s start — four innings, seven hits, six earned, three walks, seven Ks and three homers — saddled him with a season-low game score of 15.
Here’s where a more snide writer might ask, “season low, how can you tell?” And to be true, Shields has had some lows: five insipid game scores of less than 28 this season, of 23 total. That’s perhaps not the ratio you’re looking for in your Opening Day starter.
After the game, Shields stepped into the confessional with MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, apparently the only regular White Sox beat writer on this trip.
“To me, that’s just unacceptable,” Shields said. “The game was on me today. I lost the game for the team.”
He’s not wrong.
But listen, though we’ve had our fun with Shields this year, fair’s fair: While the assessment may be a product of cratered expectations, the righthander has pitched better than anyone had a right to expect this season. Last night’s Six Pack of Stats pointed out that by game score, Shields is the second-best White Sox starter this season, and if you count the three guys who’ve actually been healthy all season, he’s been the best. (This last start alone knocks him down into a tie with Reynaldo López, but let me make our apology already, jeez.)
Anyway, that’s two occasions to apologize in this recap, and that’s roughly two more recap apologies than we’ve issued all year, so let’s get to the rest of the ballgame.
It started out competitively, with the two teams knotted 2-2 until the bottom of the fifth, when the Angels crooked-numbered a frame into a 6-2 lead. Another inning passed, with the chalk dust clearing to reveal a 11-2 Angels advantage and the ballgame effectively over.
Trout alone scored as many runs (three) and drove in one more (four) than the entire White Sox team, which gives you an idea of the offense Chicago mustered against Tyler Skaggs. The southpaw handcuffed the White Sox over six innings, yielding four hits, two walks, two runs (one earned) against nine Ks, for an efficient 71 game score.
José Abreu went 2-for-4 with another double, and a run scored, but that passed for virtually the entire Chicago offense. The team had only four more hits, and the only other one for real damage came with one out in the ninth, Matt Davidson sending an 0-2 fastball out fast for an oppo homer against hurdy-gurdy reliever Blake Parker. Davidson has recaptured the White Sox lead in home runs, with 15.
Meanwhile, Trout has 28. Albert Pujols, older now but not so geriatric that he can’t admire a good moon shot from the batter’s box, also homered in the game, and has 17. Shohei Ohtani, stuck in some sort of Micker Adolfo elbow limbo, clocked his ninth as well, in his 51st game.
And as the play of the game tonight, let’s risk further revenge from Trout tomorrow by giving it to silky-smooth Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who threw out Avisaíl García at first base to end the eighth inning in spite of an unidentified flying object bounding past baserunner Abreu and, yes, eventually hitting Simmons as he completed the play:
Hold on, check that, I’m being told that unidentified object is García’s shattered bat bounding menacingly toward Simmons, fielding the ball deep at short.
When the most notable offensive play of your game is a piece of bat nearly piercing an opponent — a play in which you end up thrown out at first base — it’s time to wear the loss and rack ’em up again tomorrow.
And in that regard, advantage back to the White Sox in tomorrow’s getaway, as Dylan Covey takes the bump, coming off of the best game of his career and the second-best start of the White Sox season (86 game score), Saturday’s two-hitter at Safeco.
A series win is still within sight.