ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 19: : Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Florida Marlins during the game at Tropicana Field on June 19, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Seriously, there are too many big stories from the game today. Some quick thoughts on the Rays' 2-1 win over the Marlins:
- James Shields just pitched his second complete game in a row, and his fifth complete game of the year. Coming into this season, Shields had pitched a total of 5 complete games over five seasons.He's been unreal so far this season.
- Casey Kotchman cannot be stopped. Today he went 2-3 with the game winning double (technically ruled a single, but I thought it should have been a double) down the left field line. And to make it even more impressive, he got that hit off LOOGY extraordinaire Randy Choate. Pure domination.
- Sam Fuld had two remarkable diving catches in left field during the eighth inning: one going toward the wall and one coming in. Ho hum, another couple of incredible catches from Sam Fuld -- what else is new?
A few more thoughts on Shields after the jump.
One of the reasons that Shields has been so dominant this year is because he's had his full complement of pitches working. Not only has did he locate his change-up well yesterday, keeping them below the zone and generating 7 swinging strikes with them, but he was able to mix in his curveball just as often as his change. There were some times when Shields threw his curveball early in the count and at times the hitter surely wasn't expecting it, so having that other weapon really helps him keep hitters off-balance.
Shields also threw a handful of sliders and cutters yesterday -- or at least, what Pitch F/x has classified as a cutter. His cutters had similar movement to his slider, but didn't quite break as much horizontally and were nearly as fast as his fastball. I wasn't a huge fan of Shields' cutter last season, as it seemed to get hit hard a lot of the time, but if he can locate it well, I don't see why it couldn't be an effective pitch. More and more pitchers are succeeding with cutters these days, so Shields may continue to mix a cutter in every now and then.
All hail Big Game James. In only 15 starts, he's already thrown 112 innings and accumulated 2.4 WAR -- if he stays on this pace, he'll easily set a career high in innings pitched (219) and WAR (4.5).