DETROIT -- Pitchers like James Shields can usually rejoice when they play the Tigers, who entered Thursday's game ranked last in the Majors with 99 home runs. But Shields has been susceptible to the long ball during his age-36 season, and he gave up three home runs en route to
DETROIT -- Pitchers like James Shields can usually rejoice when they play the Tigers, who entered Thursday's game ranked last in the Majors with 99 home runs. But Shields has been susceptible to the long ball during his age-36 season, and he gave up three home runs en route to a 7-2 loss at Comerica Park.
All three home runs were solo shots in the sixth inning. Nicholas Castellanos, who is now 22-for-55 (.400) against the White Sox this season, hit a projected 406-foot moonshot, according to Statcast™, to left field to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. After recording the first out of the inning, Shields gave up back-to-back homers to Michael Mahtook and Ronny Rodriguez to make it 5-0 Tigers.
"I was trying to go up to Mahtook right there and just didn't get it up enough," Shields explained. "I just didn't locate my pitches at that point."
Shields gave up his other two runs in the fourth inning on a double and sacrifice fly. It could have been worse, but Shields picked off Castellanos at third with no one out.
Thursday marked the fourth time this season Shields, who has not won on the road since Opening Day, has given up three home runs in a start. His 26 allowed this season is most for a White Sox pitcher and tied for third-most in the Majors.
"I think he's just leaving some mistakes up out over the plate," bench coach Joe McEwing said. McEwing has been filling in for manager Rick Renteria, who stayed behind in Chicago with continued lightheadedness.
Despite allowing home runs at a high clip, Shields also leads his team in another important category: innings. Thursday's 6 2/3 innings took him to 170 2/3 innings on the season, nearly 30 more than the next highest White Sox pitcher. Shields is a big reason why White Sox relievers are only needing 2.9 outs per game for their bullpen, according to Baseball Reference. (The Major League average is 3.3.)
"He's given us so many quality starts throughout the year and taken us deep into ball games. James is on pace for 200 innings," McEwing said.
Eating up innings is a point of pride for Shields.
"That's what I pride myself in all the time," Shields said. "Obviously, I don't want to give up those runs, but I'm gonna go out there and throw 100, 110 pitches as much as I possibly can and go as deep as I possibly can."
Shields threw 110 pitches Thursday, which is the third time he's met that mark this season.
White Sox hitters offered little in support. They made Tigers starter Matthew Boyd labor through six innings, but were kept scoreless. The White Sox avoided their 10th shutout of the season when Jose Rondon hit a two-run home run to left field in the eighth inning off reliever Louis Coleman. Rondon, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, was playing in his first Major League game since June 20. The White Sox have now homered in 15 straight games.
Burr makes Major League debut
Ryan Burr made his Major League debut when he came on in relief for Shields with two outs in the seventh inning. Burr, who had his contract selected from Charlotte on Wednesday, pitched 1 1/3 innings and struck out two batters.
"You think about it your whole life, and then it happens," Burr said. "It's crazy. I thought I was gonna balk when I came in. I was shaking a little bit."
McEwing said he met Burr at the mound and told him to take a step back and embrace the moment. Burr got behind 3-0 on the first batter he faced, but battled back and finished by getting a swinging strikeout on a 95-mph heater up in the zone. He settled in for the eighth inning and retired the Tigers in order.
"I definitely still had some nerves," Burr said of going back out for the eighth. "It's baseball at the end of the day. You've been doing it your whole life and muscle memory takes over. It was the best time I've ever had on a baseball mound."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The White Sox had their chances to score off Boyd. Adam Engel's one-out double in the third inning may have scored Yolmer Sanchez, had he not been picked off at first base earlier in the at-bat. In the fifth inning, Sanchez almost scored from second on a single to center field, but Tim Anderson was thrown out trying to go from first to third for the final out before Sanchez crossed the plate.
"We made some mistakes on the bases today," McEwing said. "... We discussed with Sanchez and Anderson that the only play was going to be at third. He wasn't gonna have a chance to throw [Sanchez] out at the plate. With two outs right there, we're trying not to make that third out at third. Once Sanchez rounded, he looked back and saw that play developing at third, he slowed down. We talked to both of them about it and they took full responsibility for it."
Engel finished the game 2-for-4, with both hits being doubles. Engel now has 20 multi-hit games -- including four games with multiple extra-base hits -- for the White Sox this season.
The White Sox continue their four-game Players' Weekend series in Detroit with a 6:10 p.m. CT first pitch Friday against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Reynaldo Lopez (4-9, 4.72 ERA) will be on the mound for Chicago after giving up 10 runs over seven innings in his last two starts. The Tigers will go with Michael Fulmer (3-9, 4.50), who is making his first start since coming off the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.
Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.