“Complete Game” James Back in Form
If you blinked, you missed this game. James Shields was certainly a big part of the 4-0 win over the Royals as he threw his eighth complete game and fourth shutout in a game that lasted just one hour and 53 minutes. It was the shortest nine inning game (although technically it was eight and a half innings) in Rays history. It was also the shortest game of the year in Major League Baseball. The game was reminiscent, at least to me, of Armando Galarraga‘s imperfect game against the Indians on June 2, 2010. That game last just an hour and 44 minutes and would have been shorter had Jim Joyce gotten the call right.
Just like last night, if you missed the very beginning you missed the game winning runs. Desmond Jennings and Johnny Damon got on to lead off the game, completed a double steal and then scored on an Evan Longoria single. Longoria later drove home the other two runs of the game with a home run to left center in the sixth.
In between it didn’t look like Shields would last the entire game. In each of the third, fourth and fifth, Shields allowed at least two baserunners. Meanwhile, Royals’ starter Jeff Francis was shutting the Rays offense down. After Longoria’s two-RBI single, he set down 15 batters in a row. After the bump in the middle of the game, Shields faced the minimum over the last four innings.
Here are some fun facts from tonight’s action:
- James Shields now has more complete games (eight) than 25 other teams.
- He also has more complete games than the Padres, Cubs, Red Sox, Brewers, Astros and Royals combined.
- His four shutouts are more than 26 other teams. (Thanks to Cork Gaines from @RaysIndex for the stats.)
- Tonight, Shields allowed his first stolen base of the year. It’s been amazing how completely he has shut down the running game this year.
- The Rays certainly acted like they had someplace to be after the game. They saw just 86 pitches in eight innings–a remarkably low total.
Players of the Game: James Shields and Evan Longoria. Shields provided the pitching, Longoria the offense. Some props go to Casey Kotchman for some really nice defensive work as well.