Baseball fans should be used to see this scenario from the San Francisco Giants. After watching them dismantle St. Louis Cardinals pitching in a five game series, the National League champs are picking up right where they left off. Royals top starter James Shields fell into hitter’s counts and the Giants struck early in a 7-1 final.
Shields got into a high pitch count and was done before he couldn’t finish the fourth inning because he was unable to spot pitches for strikes. In five of the first seven batters that came up for the Giants in the first inning, Shields started them with off with a ball.
“It just wasn’t my night tonight,” Shields said.
Leadoff batter Gregor Blanco was up 2-1 in the count before eventually singling to center. The second hitter Joe Panik flew out on a 1-0 pitch. The heart of the order crushed Shields.
Buster Posey hit a 2-0 pitch to left. After Pablo Sandoval took a pitch, he lined one into right field to score Blanco. A great relay kept it a 1-0 score and Shields had the opportunity to escape with a small deficit, but again, fell behind 2-0 to Hunter Pence, who eventually homered deep to center on a 3-2 count.
With Sandoval on second with first base open, the Royals should have pitched around Pence who is hitting .444 in his last seven days. Waiting on deck behind him was first baseman Brandon Belt, hitting just .182 in that same span. The Royals elected to stick with the righty-righty matchup and it backfired.
With a man who carries the nickname “Big Game,” he certainly hasn’t delivered when it’s mattered most for this ball club.
“I was probably just overamped a little bit. I have to bear down and get the job done right there. That’s the bottom line. I didn’t get the job done tonight. Hopefully, I get another start.”
Shields got out of the next two innings, but in the fourth, more trouble. He had no choice but to face Pence and once again he fell behind 2-1 in the count and Pence doubled. He went to third on a wild pitch and Shields walked Belt. After another first pitch strike, Shields fell into a 2-1 hole and Michael Morse singled a run home to right field ending Shields’ night.
He went three plus innings and was charged with five runs. The free agent to be, has not been impressive at all this postseason. His start nearly derailed the Royals postseason in the Wild Card matchup against the A’s. In four starts this playoff run, Shields is 1-1 having allowed 15 earned runs in 19 innings for a 7.10 ERA.