The major question Kansas City Royals fans are asking right now is ‘why can’t James Shields pitch like that every night?’
Shields was brilliant Tuesday in pitching the Royals to a 3-1 victory over the New York Yankees. Here’s the answer to the question: He has been throwing well. It’s just that he went into the game with the second lowest run support among American League pitchers at 3.38 runs per nine innings.
Shields had just one win in his previous 12 starts despite holding the opponent to two earned runs for fewer than eight times in that span.
So it’s Shields’ teammates fault that he hasn’t been winning lately? Well, yes.
Shields can’t be expected to win games when the Royals don’t score runs. He’s 4-6, but that’s not the stat the fans should be looking at. His ERA is 3.12, which is excellent. In Tuesday’s game, he allowed one earned run, five hits and two walks over seven innings, while striking out five.
A better question is: why can’t the Royals hit better for Shields and other pitchers? If they answer that question, they might keep winning. They’ve won three of their last four. They can’t waste good pitching performances with poor hitting. That’s something the Royals coaching staff has to try to solve right now.
What Shields must especially be given credit for is his patience. It would be easy to get frustrated, but he’s hung with it and he enjoyed a major moment on Tuesday by out-dueling one of the best in baseball, the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia. That’s enough to keep anyone’s confidence going sky-high.