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Shields' adjustments pay off with 7 scoreless

Right-hander allows no runs for first time since July 26, 2016
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- James Shields appeared to have forgotten about his last start.

Shields needed 99 pitches to navigate 4 2/3 innings last Friday against the A's, giving up eight runs (two earned). His outing on Wednesday, however, marked his first scoreless start since July 26, 2016, as he blanked the Twins for seven innings and the White Sox won, 6-1, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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CHICAGO -- James Shields appeared to have forgotten about his last start.

Shields needed 99 pitches to navigate 4 2/3 innings last Friday against the A's, giving up eight runs (two earned). His outing on Wednesday, however, marked his first scoreless start since July 26, 2016, as he blanked the Twins for seven innings and the White Sox won, 6-1, at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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"My body's feeling really good this year, and this is kind of what I've done my whole career," Shields said. "I strive to go as deep as I possibly can in games, and so far, it's been good."

The veteran right-hander has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his last 13 starts. Shields said that at this stage in his career, he's been making adjustments to continue to pitch well.

"I'm not throwing as hard as I used to. If I were to throw over the top, I'd still throw a little harder than I am right now," Shields said. "At the end of the day, I'm feeling really good with my delivery right now, my mechanics. It's been a lot of fun making these adjustments."

Video: MIN@CWS: Shields discusses his strong 7-inning outing

"He's continued to evolve," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "His experience and the way he's managing the strike zone, the way he's commanding from the slots he's throwing from now, feeling more and more comfortable."

Only Twins shortstop Ehire Adrianza managed to have success against Shields. Adrianza, who entered Wednesday with a .976 OPS against Chicago, went 3-for-3 off Shields, while the rest of the visiting lineup went 1-for-21 -- Brian Dozier's sixth-inning single was the only other hit.

Video: MIN@CWS: Renteria on Shields' outing, offense in win

Offensively, the White Sox had another strong showing as they outslugged the Twins for the second straight night. Chicago tallied three runs in the fourth inning, when back-to-back singles from Jose Abreu and Daniel Palka sparked a rally.

Leury Garcia provided the key hit in the fourth, lining a double to right field to make it 1-0. Garcia is 8-for-17 since coming off the disabled list on June 22.

Video: MIN@CWS: Abreu crushes a solo homer to left

Abreu hit his 12th homer of the season, a solo shot off Twins starter Kyle Gibson in the fifth.

"He's been probably pressing a little bit, for sure," Renteria said of Abreu. "He knows he has to get pitches he can handle out over the plate. That pitch he hit was kind of middle away and down, and he pulled it. That's the kind of bat skill he brings to the table."

Avisail Garcia homered for the second straight night, taking reliever Ryan Pressly deep in the eighth for his third home run of the year.

Video: MIN@CWS: Garcia launches his 3rd HR of the season

"Right now, he's still feeling for it, you can see," Renteria said of Garcia. "I think he's inching back, he's definitely putting himself in better positions to have better at-bats, but it's going to take a little time, and I think he's chipping away at it, for sure."

The Twins scored a run in the ninth after reliever Juan Minaya struggled to record the final out after retiring the first two batters. Luis Avilan struck out pinch-hitter Logan Morrison to end the game, stranding runners on the corners.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Balk or no balk? With two outs in the sixth, Shields faked a pickoff attempt to first base, then threw to third. The umpires called a balk on the play, saying Shields did not step off the rubber before throwing to third. But after conferring with each other, they reversed the original call. Twins manager Paul Molitor was ejected for arguing the reversal, and Shields' scoreless outing was preserved.

"It's a designed play. I actually called the play myself," Shields said. "Knowing that, I know I have to make sure I step off and fake to first and throw to third. I'm pretty sure, I'm very confident, that I did that, and I went back and looked at the video, and I clearly stepped off. I was just kind of pleading my case right there."

Video: MIN@CWS: Molitor ejected after balk reversal

SOUND SMART
Abreu's fifth-inning home run was his 136th career homer, tying Jose Valentin for 11th in White Sox history. He is four home runs away from tying Ron Kittle for 10th.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the ninth, Yoan Moncada dove for an Adrianza ground ball and was slow to get up. White Sox trainer Herm Schneider came onto the field to check him out, but Moncada had only broken his belt with the dive. Joking after the game, Moncada said was surprised that Schneider felt the need to check on him.

"It was the first time it happened [to me], and I just asked him for a new one," Moncada said through an interpreter. "I hadn't seen him, and when I turned, I saw him and I was laughing, because it was nothing."

Moncada received his new belt after his postgame interview and, smiling, held it up for all to see.

Video: MIN@CWS: Adrianza pokes an RBI single in the 9th

HE SAID IT
"I'm just trying show these guys, not only on the field, but off the field, taking the ball every five days and posting, and going as deep as you possibly can in the game to save our bullpen. I think that's the name of the game. Sometimes, when you get the bullpen worn out, they're not back there doing their job late in the game when we need them. Just try to be as consistent as possible with your routine in between starts." -- Shields, on mentoring the White Sox young pitching staff

UP NEXT
The White Sox conclude their three-game set with the Twins on Thursday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Lucas Giolito (5-7, 7.01 ERA) will look to build off his longest start of the season last time out, when he pitched seven innings. He also set a season high with eight strikeouts in that win over the A's last Friday. Minnesota counters with Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 4.97).

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields