Phillies-White Sox preview
CHICAGO -- James Shields will try again to shake out of a 11-week funk as he takes the mound for the Chicago White Sox in Wednesday's finale of a two-game interleague series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 34-year-old right-hander, acquired in a June 4 trade with the San Diego Padres, is 5-15 with a 5.98 ERA this season. In 14 starts since joining Chicago he's 2-8 and gave up seven runs on eight hits -- including three home runs over 4 2/3 innings -- in last Saturday's 9-0 loss to the Oakland A's.
"There's times where a team will hit him around and he's been able to fight his way back," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The roughest stretch was when he first got here and he seemed to calm those waters and figure it out. He has the ability to do that."
Shields is 0-3 over his last four starts, allowing a combined 28 runs (27 earned) on 33 hits over 14 innings pitched.
Shields worked five or fewer innings in his first four starts, including 1 2/3 innings on June 18 when he was rocked for eight runs on seven hits in Chicago's 13-2 loss at Cleveland.
His best outing came on July 27 when he shut out the Chicago Cubs 3-0 in an eight-inning appearance.
Shields will face a Phillies right-hander -- the rising Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.91 ERA) -- who not only might identify with Shields' struggles but has also found his way back.
Eickhoff started his second big league season with a 2-8 record through 11 starts and then began to turn things around with a seven-inning outing with just one run on two hits in the Phillies 3-2 win over the Cubs on June 7.
Since then he's 6-4 with three no-decisions, including three straight losses from July 9-26.
In his last three starts, Eickhoff has had two wins and a no-decision in his last three starts. Last Thursday against the Dodgers he gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings, struck out eight and walked two and gave up a three-run home run to Justin Turner in the opening inning.
The Phillies are in Chicago for a two-game series, their first appearance at U.S. Cellular Field since 2004. It's only the fifth all-time inter-league series between the teams.
The White Sox took two-of-three in the last meeting in Chicago. The Phillies swept in 2007 and won two-of-three in 2013 -- both series at Citizens Bank Park.
The teams will complete a four-game series with two games on Sept. 20-21 in Philadelphia.
Chicago got an outfield regular back Tuesday. Avisail Garcia was activated from the 15-day disabled list (sprained right knee) and was promptly inserted in the starting lineup, going 1-for-4.
Garcia was batting .240 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs over 86 games with the White Sox this season. He was 5-for-15 (.333) with three homers and six RBIs in August prior to suffering the injury.