CHICAGO (AP) — Far removed from the playoff races, James Shields was trying to avoid his 19th defeat this season while facing the 103-loss Minnesota Twins.
It resulted in a rare night of smiles for Minnesota while confusion surrounded White Sox manager Robin Ventura’s future.
Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco each hit a two-run home run to send Shields to a major league high-tying 19th loss, and the Twins beat Chicago 6-0 on Saturday night.
The Twins haven’t lost this many games since the franchise moved to Minnesota, but in this one, they got 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball from Hector Santiago (13-10) for their third win in 14 games.
Buddy Boshers, J.T. Chargois and Brandon Kintzler completed the four-hitter.
“We’ve lost enough games already,” Santiago said. “So you go out there and try to give your team a chance to compete and win.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported during the game that Ventura, who is in the last year of his contract, would not return after five seasons and that Rick Renteria, a former manager of the Chicago Cubs, would likely replace him.
Ventura wouldn’t answer questions about his future.
“I just said all along that I’m going to talk about it at the end,” Ventura said.
Meanwhile, White Sox players claimed they hadn’t heard the news.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” third baseman Todd Frazier.
Shields (6-19) concluded a career-worst season split between San Diego and Chicago by allowing five runs and four hits over seven innings. His 40 home runs and 118 earned runs allowed are the most in the majors. Only Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer has as many losses.
Polanco homered in the fourth and Buxton connected an inning later off Shields. Juan Centeno added run-scoring doubles in the seventh and ninth.
Shields is 4-12 since being traded to the White Sox in June.
“That’s just the kind of year I’m having,” Shields said. “I make two bad pitches, and it costs me.”
Buxton continued his late-season emergence. The former top prospect hit .193 with one homer in his first 63 games this season, but then batted .277 with seven homers, 18 RBIs and a .936 OPS in September.
The 34-year-old Shields was an All-Star in Tampa Bay, helped Kansas City to the World Series in 2014 and entered the year with a major league-high nine straight 200-inning seasons. That streak ended as Shields finished with 181 2/3 innings and a 5.85 ERA.
Santiago, who spent parts of three seasons with the White Sox, struck out six. He improved to 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in four starts against Chicago this year, with two coming before he was traded by the Angels on Aug. 1.
“Maybe a chip on the shoulder from being traded that first time, especially being there for so long and them moving me,” Santiago said. “Going against those guys it makes you step your game up because that’s the team that brought you up and they got rid of you. So you want to go out there and beat them every time.”
Twins: Brian Dozier went 1 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts before exiting with right oblique soreness. “Earlier stage of my career I’d probably keep playing,” Dozier said. “I didn’t want to be stupid.” Dozier is in a 2-for-37 slump and remains at 99 RBIs. … Molitor decided not to start 1B Joe Mauer (quadriceps) again this season.
LOT OF HOMERS
Shields is the first pitcher to allow 40 home runs in a season since Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo gave up 46 in 2011.
Molitor was blunt when asked to evaluate his team, which has the franchise’s worst record since the Washington Senators went 50-104 in 1949.
He described the pitching as “at a level that’s probably the most significant reason we’re setting a Twins record for losses.”
Asked about the AL-high 126 errors, Molitor said it would be a point of emphasis next spring because “it’s been crazy the total we’ve been able to accumulate.”
Molitor described the toll of all the losing by acknowledging you can “feel the attitude and the deflation each time that we walk off the field and aren’t able to shake hands.”
Amid speculation he could be traded in the offseason to accommodate a rebuild, White Sox ace Chris Sale (17-9, 3.21 ERA) seeks his career-best 18th win in Sunday’s season finale. RHP Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.61) starts for the Twins.