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.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.