Red Sox join the James Shields hit parade

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Already leading the majors in hits allowed with 135, James Shields gave up 11 more Sunday in the Rays’ 7-3 loss to the Red Sox, making this four straight starts in which he’s allowed at least 10.

Shields is the first pitcher since the Cardinals’ Joel Pineiro in 2008 to surrender at least 10 hits in four consecutive outings. The Rays’ Albie Lopez was the last pitcher to do it more than four starts in a row. He did it in six straight starts in 2001, losing all of them and racking up a 9.09 ERA in the process. Atlanta’s Greg Maddux actually did it five times in a row in 1999, going 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA during that span.

Shields was one of the AL’s best pitchers last year, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA in 249 1/3 innings. However, his 2012 is shaping up a lot more like his 2010, when he managed to give up 246 hits in 203 1/3 innings and finished 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA. The Rays would have gotten a top-notch return had they opted to move him last winter; the Reds were interested and could have parted with the same kind of package they gave up for Mat Latos (Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger). The Rays, though, weren’t trading him then and probably aren’t going to sell low on him now.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.