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Shields K's 2,000, says starters have to improve

Veteran righty is 81st hurler to reach milestone
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The highlight of James Shields' start during Oakland's 10-2 victory over the White Sox on Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field came in the second inning when he picked up career strikeout No. 2,000.

That historic moment, following a 30-minute ceremony retiring Mark Buehrle's jersey No. 56, came when he fanned Khris Davis to end the frame. Shields acknowledged the momentous career accomplishment postgame, but was not happy with the six runs allowed on seven hits and three walks in three-plus innings during the setback.

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CHICAGO -- The highlight of James Shields' start during Oakland's 10-2 victory over the White Sox on Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field came in the second inning when he picked up career strikeout No. 2,000.

That historic moment, following a 30-minute ceremony retiring Mark Buehrle's jersey No. 56, came when he fanned Khris Davis to end the frame. Shields acknowledged the momentous career accomplishment postgame, but was not happy with the six runs allowed on seven hits and three walks in three-plus innings during the setback.

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He gave up the first career home runs to Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto. Over the last 31 games, the White Sox starting rotation features a 5.88 ERA (96 earned runs in 147 innings), making a mere six quality starts.

"We're taxing the bullpen right now, and the starters need to do a better job of going deeper in the game," said Shields, who is part of a White Sox rotation ranking last in the American League with 25 quality starts. "I definitely didn't do my job today, going deep into the game, and that's something I've always prided myself on. At the end of the day, we need to pick those guys up.

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"It's an ongoing thing every day. We need to do a better job flat out. Today I didn't do my job. I was behind in the count. Lot of walks. We need to clean that up. We need to make [manager Rick Renteria's] life a little easier on making decisions on keeping us in the ballgame. We need to get back on that track."

Shields, 35, needed four strikeouts to become the 81st hurler in Major League Baseball history to reach 2,000 and fanned two each in the first and second. He also gave up home runs in each of those first two innings and trailed, 4-0.

His strikeout of Davis made Shields the 57th right-hander to record 2,000. The White Sox hurler entered the day three behind White Sox legend Billy Pierce (1,999) and four behind Andy Benes (2,000) and 10th among active pitchers.

"Yeah, of course, 2,000 strikeouts is pretty special," said Shields, who has worked 2,319 2/3 innings over parts of 12 seasons. "I've never considered myself a strikeout pitcher in my career. I've logged a lot of innings but to be able to get that accomplishment is pretty special.

"Not too many guys have done that. I'm definitely taking that in. Wish it could have been under different circumstances with the win. Overall I'm pretty proud of that."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields