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James Shields Rolls Along, Leads Rays to 4-1 Win

James Shields has woken up for the past 24 months. The past two seasons have each been like a dream for him — one horrible, one incredible — and this recent run of dominance doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. After last night’s eight innings, four hit masterpiece, Shields’ ERA has now dropped to 2.84 and he’s crossed the 1,000 strikeout mark.

Seriously, I could go on all day with James Shields Facts. He’s already thrown 209 innings in only 28 starts. He’s sitting one strikeout shy of 200 this season, meaning this will become the first time in his career he breaks that barrier — barring some horrific freak accident, I guess. His 10 complete games leads the majors, yet he’s been incredibly efficient with his pitches and not overtaxed himself in the process. As Tommy Rancel puts it:

Last year he threw 3,351 pitches in 203.1 innings. This year he’s completed 201 innings in just 2,873 pitches. Used 478 more pitches last year to throw 2.1 more innings. He’s down a full 2 pitches P/IP this year.

But anyway, what about the rest of the game? While Shields was shutting down the Rangers over the first eight innings of the game, the Rays were slowly chipping away at the Rangers’ pitching. They only mustered nine baserunners on the evenings, but they still managed to knock out starter Alexi Ogando in only 2.2 innings after knocking him up for three runs. The Rays later tacked on another insurance run off a homer from Johnny Damon, and cruised to an easy 4-1 win.

Game Notes:

- Bit of offensive weirdness: the Rays somehow managed to have no player get multiple hits in the game. Their only extra base hit was Damon’s home run, and Matt Joyce was the only player to reach base twice in the game (single and a walk). Hey, whatever gets the job done.

- Kyle Farnsworth didn’t exactly slam the door in the ninth inning, allowing one run and multiple hits, but he got the job done in the end. He deserves to be cut some slack, as he’s been battling elbow soreness and he hasn’t pitched in over a week.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.