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James Shields of the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds play in opposite leagues and rarely see each other Andy Dalton Jersey , yet they currently have much in common.

Now that they’re starting to make something out of what appeared to be a totally lost season, they’d like to keep it going.

The Reds got off to the worst start in baseball at 8-27, one so bad that getting to .500 looked to be as much of a challenge as winning a division title would be for most teams.

But when the Reds (36-48) take on the right-handed Shields and the White Sox on Monday night at Great American Ball Park, in the teams’ first matchup since 2015, they’ll be one of the majors’ hottest clubs. They’ve won 11 of 14 after taking the final two games of a four-game weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers, and interim manager Jim Riggleman now has a 33-33 record for a last-place team.

Considering that Riggleman took over a Reds team that was 3-15 under former manager Bryan Price, that’s something of an accomplishment. And the Reds own a 6-1 record in interleague games.

“We know we can play with these teams that are in first place in their division,” Riggleman said.

They’re winning now in grand fashion, too. Jose Peraza hit the team’s major league-leading ninth grand slam Sunday in an 8-2 win over the Brewers, their second in two games (pitcher Michael Lorenzen hit a pinch-grand slam Saturday) and sixth in 17 games. They’ve already tied a club season record.

“We’ve been getting better at-bats … and we’ve happened to have men on base,” Riggleman said.

Cincinnati starter Matt Harvey pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings before being lifted after a rain delay, and the Reds dealt Brewers rookie Freddy Peralta (3-1), who gave up three runs in five innings, his first major league loss. Peralta allowed only one hit in seven shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals in his previous start.

“That’s probably the best I’ve felt since 2013 Da'Shawn Hand Jersey ,” said Harvey (4-5), who won his third straight start.

Shields (3-9), likewise, is beginning to see a ray of sunshine in what previously was a gloomy season. He’s coming off his best start of the year, pitching seven shutout innings and giving up four hits Wednesday in a 6-1 win over the Minnesota Twins. It was his 12th quality start of the season, or five more than he had all of last season.

Shields still isn’t the pitcher that won 13 or more games seven times from 2008 to 2015, but it hasn’t helped that he’s pitching for a team that’s off to the second worst start in franchise history. He has allowed a respectable six earned runs in his last four starts, and twice yielded one or no runs while lasting at least seven innings.

At age 36, Shields is making adjustments to compensate for his decreased velocity, yet has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his last 13 starts for a last-place team.

“My body’s feeling really good this year, and this is kind of what I’ve done my whole career,” Shields told reporters after the game against the Twins. “I strive to go as deep as I possibly can in games and so far it’s been good.

“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. (But) at the end of the day, I’m feeling really good with my delivery right now Terrell Davis Jersey , my mechanics. It’s been a lot of fun making these adjustments.”

Shields goes against Reds right-hander Luis Castillo (5-8), who was 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five June starts. He retired the first 11 batters he faced Wednesday at Atlanta, only to give up four quick runs on a walk and five consecutive singles, although the Reds came back to win 6-5.

Castillo is 0-1 in two starts against American League clubs this season, giving up eight runs in six innings. He has never faced the White Sox.

Shields is 18-18 with a 4.57 ERA in interleague play and 0-2 in two career starts against the Reds, the last of which was in 2015.

The White Sox (29-54) ended a three-game losing streak Sunday by salvaging the final game of a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, winning 10-5 as Avisail Garcia went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

The Reds have won five consecutive interleague games but are facing the White Sox at Great American Ball Park for the first time since 2009. The White Sox are 16-4 overall against the Reds and 10-2 in Cincinnati, though that success there predated any of the current players.

Derrius Guice walked onto his new home field taking cellphone video of his surroundings and waving to fans.

 

It’s the kind of moment he could have had on stage at the NFL draft had he gone in the first round as projected. Instead, the LSU running back slipped to late in the second round amid some off-field character concerns and will now give the Washington Redskins a very motivated rusher.

”I already ran angry and now I’m going to run angrier than ever,” Guice said Saturday. ”It’s going to be tough for a lot of teams to bring me down.”

In getting a run-stuffing defensive tackle in Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne at 13th , a powerful running back in Guice at 59th and Louisville offensive tackle Geron Christian at 74th, the Redskins hope to solve problems in the ground game on each side of the ball. They were worst in the NFL in stopping the run and fifth-worst in rushing.

”I stop the run for a living, so I think that’s going to be something easy,” Payne said.

The Redskins addressed most of their needs in one way or another at the draft Anthony Brown Jersey , trading down to recoup the third-round pick they traded for quarterback Alex Smith, adding Guice to their backfield and stocking up on defensive depth.

Guice could end up being the best value, considering that the SEC record-holder for most 250-yard games dropped amid reports of an argument during his visit with the Eagles. Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman denied there was any altercation, and Washington was satisfied enough in its meetings with Guice that it ended his freefall.

”No one wants to hear their name be slandered like that,” Guice said, repeating that he didn’t know where the reports came from. ”(The Redskins) didn’t just go off rumors, they didn’t just hear everything and believe it because they met me. They know me as a person, so they already know who I am as a person. Just to see a team not let rumors and stuff like that affect their decision to bring me in, I have to give my all to these guys. They changed my life, they believed in me, they trusted me.”

NEED FOR SPEED: Washington added speedy Penn State safety Troy Apke with its fourth-round pick 109th overall to add to a group that already includes hard-hitting D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson. Apke’s 4.34-second 40-yard dash was the fastest among safeties at the scouting combine.

”I think my speed will help with everything,” Apke said. ”I’m going to make a name for myself on special teams first, and then after that, just make my way into playing safety there.”

ON GUARD: Coach Jay Gruden saying that Christian will remain at tackle makes it a strong likelihood that Ty Nsekhe moves inside to fill the hole at starting left guard. That was the Redskins’ one starting job left open going in.

”You can never have too many big bodies Nickell Robey-Coleman Jersey ,” Gruden said. ”I believe that, and it’s about protecting the passer (and) running the football.”

ROLL TIDE: Taking Payne and then inside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton in the sixth round gives the Redskins four Alabama products over the past two drafts. Payne joked that former teammates and 2017 picks Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson were more excited about the Crimson Tide defensive reunion than he was.

”It should be a lot of fun,” Payne said. ”Just being able to come in and already have some guys that I know there … they’ll help me out with little things and just guide me in the right direction.”

NEW D: Swearinger was so happy about adding Payne, Apke, fifth-round defensive tackle Tim Settle, seventh-round cornerback Greg Stroman and Hamilton that he tweeted : ”Welcome to the rebirth of the new and improved Redskins defense.” Time will tell if he’s correct, but after injuries in 2017, at the very least, Washington has more depth.

STILL NEED: Tight end depth and a developmental quarterback prospect. Injuries to TE Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis being 34 make it a position to watch well into training camp, along with QB, if the front office wants to start thinking about the post-Smith era.

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