By Evan Brunell
James Shields was among the best pitchers in baseball all year, and entered Saturday having posted a 2.82 ERA on the season. He also had the honor of being the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1992 to record 11 complete games and four shutouts in a season, but it was all for naught on Saturday. Shields was rocked for seven runs in five-plus innings, with the big blow coming in a five-run fourth.
Shields was spot-on for much of the game, whiffing six batters in all and issuing zero walks, but imploded in the fourth inning, which was complicated by home plate umpire Kerwin Danley's blown call. Danley wasn't biting on calling the low strike, which led to some close calls and forced Shields to elevate his pitches right into the heart of the strike zone. But he began the fourth with a surprising loss of control, plunking Elvis Andrus with a pitch.
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It looked like Shields was getting back on track with a clean fifth inning, but two consecutive singles to open the inning sent Shields to the showers. Texas would go on to score twice in the inning, both runs charged to the righty. It was certainly a surprising performance by Shields, who began the game crisp but later unraveled at the seams.
Shields has been here before. Last season, he faced the Rangers in Game 2 of the ALDS as well, and served up four runs in 4 1/3 innings. In that game, Shields' big inning came in the fifth when he allowed a three-run homer to Michael Young and later an Ian Kinsler RBI grounder before his night ended.
Shields lasted longer than he did in 2010, but unfortunately the end result was the same: An ALDS Game 2 loss.
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