CHICAGO -- The better James Shields pitches, the less likely the veteran right-hander is to stay with the White Sox through his 2018 campaign.Shields put together his eighth straight start of at least six innings, his fourth straight of at least seven innings and his fourth consecutive quality start during
CHICAGO -- The better James Shields pitches, the less likely the veteran right-hander is to stay with the White Sox through his 2018 campaign.
Shields put together his eighth straight start of at least six innings, his fourth straight of at least seven innings and his fourth consecutive quality start during Milwaukee's 5-0 victory before 29,281 fans on a nearly perfect Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field. The reinvention of the right-hander, who has been effectively working from different arm angles, as well as his experience and competitive fire makes the 36-year-old a prime target to be moved from the rebuilding White Sox to a contender.
After falling to 1-6 on the season and watching the White Sox slip to 17-38, Shields acknowledged an understanding of his situation, but he wasn't really focused on hypothetical trade talks. And he definitely did not want to hear about the development stage permeating Year 2 of the rebuild as a reason behind the team's disappointing record.
"Frankly I don't really care about the rebuild right now. I care about winning," Shields said. "They keep talking about rebuild, and I'm trying to win ballgames right now, period.
"I don't like losing. We are losing ballgames right now. They can keep talking about rebuild, but at the end of the day, we have to win ballgames. I'm not worried about this rebuild. I'm worried about winning right now."
Anyone who watched Shields in action Saturday knows his words support his actions.
In the sixth inning, with Jesus Aguilar on third, one out and the Brewers leading by one, Ryan Braun hit a line drive to shortstop Tim Anderson, turning it into an inning-ending double play. Shields pointed to the sky as he walked off the field, pumped his fist and let out a few celebratory yells as he walked into the dugout.
Shields allowed solo homers to Erik Kratz, Jonathan Villar and Lorenzo Cain over seven-plus innings with six strikeouts. Cain's blast on a hanging curve marked Shields' last batter, as he punched his glove walking off the field. It came after Shields struck out Cain in the fifth with two sub-70 mph slow curves -- or eephus pitches, as characterized by Statcast™.
"We had to bear down. He's doing everything to keep hitters off-balance," Cain said. "That's what you have to do in this game, make adjustments, and that's what he's done. He pitched well today."
"The angle that he has now is obviously shown to be extremely effective against both lefties and righties," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "That's a tremendous outing. He kept us there, he gave us a chance."
Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin matched Shields over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out five and walking one. He eventually gave way to the immovable force that is Josh Hader, who fanned three over 1 1/3 innings.
Milwaukee scored three in the eighth to take control of the game. The final two runs came on an Aguilar home run against Jace Fry. A sixth shutout of the White Sox dropped them to a 9-19 home mark, an unacceptable record to Shields and his teammates, despite going 6-4 in their past 10 at Guaranteed Rate.
"Yeah, we have a great attitude in here. We want to win. We just aren't getting the job done right now, plain and simple," Shields said. "It's a good ballclub over there, no doubt about it. The Brewers are hot right now.
"Right now we have to focus on winning ballgames. We can't worry about what everyone is saying out there in the media. We have to worry about what we do in this clubhouse."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Just missed it:Omar Narvaez made a bid for his first home run of the season and what would have been a game-tying drive off of Chacin with two outs in the fourth. But he came up a bit short, with right fielder Christian Yelich hauling in the drive a step or two from the wall.
Swing and a miss: The White Sox had a chance to score off of Chacin in the third following a Trayce Thompson walk and Yolmer Sanchez's two-out single. But with runners on the corners, Chacin struck out Jose Abreu to end the rally.
"We had a few chances to produce, but Chacin was really good today," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "You have to tip your cap. He was outstanding."
Shields allowed a home run at Guaranteed Rate for the first time since April 25 against Seattle. He received one run or fewer of support for the sixth consecutive start.
HE SAID IT
"Here was a guy who when he first started with us was having a little bit of a tough time. Rightly so, people weren't really happy with the way he was performing, but he has a lot of heart, a lot of guts. He found a way to make it work and he's extremely effective against some pretty good big league hitters."-- Renteria, on Shields
Dylan Covey will make his fourth start of the season and his first career outing vs. Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT at Guaranteed Rate Field. The White Sox right-hander originally was drafted by the Brewers 14th overall in the 2010 Draft, but after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Covey elected to stay near home, attend the University of San Diego and not sign.
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.