ShieldsRecently anything James Shields has started he's gone on to finish. For the third consecutive game Shields pitched a complete game as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros. He is the first pitcher in Rays history to throw three consecutive complete games.
Shields hasn't just been piling up innings, but he's also been keeping players off the bases. In each of the starts he's allowed five hits or fewer, just the fourth pitcher since 2000 to compile such a streak.
Two of the previous three -- Roy Halladay in 2003 and Randy Johnson in 2000 -- went on to win the Cy Young award. You have to go back to Greg Maddux in 1998 for the last time a starter did so in four consecutive outings.
This is already Shields' sixth complete game this season, which sets the record for most in a season in franchise history. He is only the sixth pitcher with six complete game victories in his team's first 76 games in the last 20 seasons.
James Shields With 2 Strikes
Last 2 Seasons
Shields continued to dominate with his changeup, relying on it as an out pitch even more than usual. He recorded 18 of his 27 outs with the pitch.
Astros hitters were 0-for-17 with five strikeouts and a double play on at-bats ending with a Shields changeup.
Just three of his 30 two-strike pitches were fastballs, his lowest in a start in over two years. As a result, all nine of his strikeouts were with his offspeed pitches. All 24 of Shields' strikeouts over his stretch of three consecutive complete games have been with offspeed pitches.
While the Astros were outdueled by Shields, Houston's staff did complete an extremely rare feat. The Astros had three pitchers pitch Friday, all with the last name Rodriguez (Wandy, Fernando, Aneury). Our good friends at Elias passed along this gem. This was the first game in the modern era (since 1900) that a trio of teammates with the same surname pitched in the same game.
Elsewhere around the diamond:
• Jon Lester became the latest pitcher to go for his 10th victory only to come up short as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Boston Red Sox. According to Elias, excluding 1981 (strike delayed season), the last time that the Majors didn't have a 10-game winner until at least June 25 was in 1950. Four pitchers earned their tenth wins of the season on June 28 that year (Art Houtteman, Bob Lemon, Preacher Roe, and Johnny Sain).
-- Dan Braunstein contributed to this report