James Shields insisted that he would just keep doing his part and not blaming the offense for the first 0-4 start in his career. While he didn’t need to provide his own offense ala Clayton Kershaw on Sunday for the Dodgers, the Padres provided two runs in the first inning that ended up being all Shields would need for the 2-1 series opening victory Monday night in San Diego.
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In Shields first five starts, Shields had gotten just five runs of support. In those games, Shields had gone at least 6 innings every time and 7 innings 3 times. He has now pitched two straight games of allowing just 1 earned run though in yesterday’s game he had to dance around 9 hits. Shields did appreciate the early support: “It was nice for the guys to give me a 2-0 lead right out of the gate. It felt good, but that early in the game, it is not as harsh, because you got a long way to go.”
He struck out five on the evening and walked just two to snap the Rockies 3 game winning streak. “I’m just trying to stay consistent” he explained. His ERA is now lowered to 3.23 despite the overall 1-4 record. The Padres were able to turn three double plays to help keep the hits from coming around to burn Shields, and he certainly appreciated the defense:
“Our defense today was impeccable, I got the ground balls I needed when I needed to and we turned the double plays that got me out of a couple of innings.”
The bullpen has looked outstanding the last several games, with Ryan Buchter really emerging as a strong late inning option in favor of Kevin Quackenbush for the 7th inning. Brandon Maurer and Fernando Rodney finished off the 8th and 9th innings for the victory, with Rodney and 1B Wil Myers again watching Rodney’s imaginary arrow fly off into the night.
Matt Kemp had the two run double in the first inning to score Jon Jay and Wil Myers. With 21 RBI on the season he leads the team with Wil Myers coming in second at 13 and clean-up hitter Melvin Upton Jr.at 11, who has been struggling lately and was benched last night. He was walked as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning before being cleaned up in a double play that kept the Padres from adding on.
It is encouraging to see Shields being the stable rock they envisioned last season, already on pace for another 200 inning season or at least showing no sign of slowing down. With the early injury to Tyson Ross, Shields health and performance is all that much more important despite the early success of starters Cesar Vargas, Drew Pomeranz and Andrew Cashner. He leads by example and is hoping that the Padres can take advantage of some early season struggles within the division to pull off a little surprise of their own.