James Shields notches fourth shutout in win over Royals

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James Shields beat the Royals 4-0 in one hour, 53 minutes on Tuesday night, notching his fourth shutout of the season.

The six-hitter was the fastest nine-inning contest in Rays franchise history.

Shields moved into a tie with the Rangers’ Derek Holland for the most shutouts in the AL this year.  Cliff Lee is the major league leader with five.

It was also Shields’ major league-best eighth complete game of the year.  Roy Halladay is second with six, while Lee is the only other pitcher with five.

Of course, this year is shaping up as a banner year for shutouts.  Shields and Holland have already matched the high total for an AL starter since 2000.  Lee has matched the high total for any pitcher the last 20 years.  The last pitcher to record more than five shutouts in a season was Randy Johnson, who had six with the Mariners and Astros in 1998.

Even last season, the supposed “year of the pitcher,” saw just two AL pitchers record multiple shutouts: Dallas Braden and Carl Pavano finished with two shutouts apiece.  Halladay led the majors with four.

With eight complete games, Shields also has a pretty good shot at becoming the first pitcher to reach double figures since Johnson finished with 12 in 1999.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.