James Shields threw his 11th complete game this afternoon, holding the Rangers to one run on four hits in a 4-1 victory.
Not only does Shields lead MLB in complete games ahead of second-place Roy Halladay with seven, he’s the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1999 to throw 11 or more complete games in a season.
In fact, during the 12 seasons since then CC Sabathia in 2008 was the only other pitcher with even 10 complete games.
Shields hasn’t gotten much run support and so his win-loss record is a modest 14-10, but among AL pitchers he ranks third in innings (218), third in strikeouts (205), and fourth in ERA (2.77). Not bad for a guy with a 5.18 ERA last season, although Shields’ unsustainably high batting average on balls in play always suggested those 2010 struggles were a fluke.
Entering Thursday’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez had never hit a home run nor even driven in a run in the playoffs in his four-year career. He had homered twice in a regular season game just twice and his career-high for RBI in a game was four.
Hernandez hit three home runs and knocked in seven runs to help power the Dodgers past the Cubs 11-1 to win the National League pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series. His first homer was a solo homer to center field in the second inning off of starter Jose Quintana. He blasted a grand slam to right field off of Hector Rondon in the fourth, then tacked on a two-run blast in the ninth inning off of Mike Montgomery to make it 11-1.
Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Jose Altuve, of course, did it two weeks ago in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. Before Altuve, Pablo Sandoval (2012), Albert Pujols (2011), and Adrian Beltre (2011) were the last players to accomplish the feat. As Jayson Stark points out, Hernandez joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Adam Kennedy, and Beltre as players to hit three homers in a series clincher.
Hernandez’s seven RBI set a new National League record for a postseason game. Only four other players — Troy O’Leary, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Edgar Martinez — accomplished the feat.
No one has hit three home runs and knocked in seven-plus in a game… until Hernandez. He certainly picked a good time to break out.