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.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has wasted no time acclimating himself to major league competition. Since getting called back up on August 3, Sanchez has smacked nine homers and driven in 16 runs in a span of 18 games. In fact, since August 3, no hitter has homered more than Sanchez and only Charlie Blackmon and Brian Dozier have matched him, Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues notes.
One of those homers came in Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Mariners at Safeco Field. It was a first-inning blast off of Hisashi Iwakuma, quickly giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. They would go on to win 5-0. Sanchez finished 2-for-3 with a pair of intentional walks, a double, and the homer.
Some more fun facts about Sanchez, courtesy Sharp:
- Sanchez is the first Yankee in club history with nine home runs in his first 21 career games [Link]
- Sanchez is the third American League player in the last 100 years to hit at least nine home runs in his first 21 career games, joining George Scott and Alvin Davis [Link]
- Sanchez and Joe DiMaggio are the only Yankees with 15 or more extra-base hits in their first 21 career games [Link]
Sanchez was considered the fifth-best prospect in the Yankees’ minor league system, according to MLB Pipeline. In the majors, he’s carrying a .389/.450/.847 triple-slash line in 79 plate appearances. He has also thrown out five of seven would-be base-stealers.
American swimmer Katie Ledecky, fresh off of winning four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Nationals’ game against the Orioles.
As NHL.com’s Katie Brown notes, Ledecky’s favorite player is Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who was on the field with her. So what did she make him do? Hold all of her medals while she threw out the first pitch.
Harper has his fair share of hardware, including a Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP Award, but no gold medals. For shame.