“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.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.