“Big Game James” continues to dominate.
James Shields held the Astros to one run in a complete game victory last night. He allowed just three hits while striking out nine and walking just one. It was his third consecutive complete game and his MLB-leading sixth complete game of the season. It’s a pretty incredible accomplishment when you consider that the 29-year-old right-hander entered the year with five complete games over 151 career starts.
Shields actually set out to finish more games this season, but told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he has exceeded even his highest expectations.
“I definitely didn’t think it would be this many. I was thinking three or four, something like that,” Shields said. “This is unbelievable. This is not how I expected to start, but this is exactly how I want to start. And I’m going to try and keep it going.”
Shields is now 8-4 with a 2.29 ERA and 117/28 K/BB ratio over his first 16 starts this season. Justin Verlander has essentially been ruled out to pitch in the All-Star Game, so there’s a decent chance that either Shields or Jered Weaver will start for the American League.
UPDATE: Rays manager Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Shields is lined up to start July 10, so he will likely be ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game. So much for that idea.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.