James Shields Day: The Games | The Process Report

James Shields Day: The Games

Invented by Bill James, the statistic known as “game score” is a quick and easy way to see how well a pitcher performed on a given day. Starting with a score of 50, a pitcher is awarded points based on events throughout the game. He is awarded one point for each out and two points for each inning completed after the fourth inning. He also gets one point for each strikeout. Pitchers lose points for negative events. A pitcher is docked two points for allowing a hit, two points for an unearned run, four points for an earned run, and loses one point for each walk.

Here are James Shields’ top five games according to game score in ascending order:

4/24/11 vs. Blue Jays (Game Score 84)
9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 95 pitches

This game marked the second of back-to-back complete games for Shields this April. Following his four-hit, one run performance against the Chicago White Sox, Shields blanked the Toronto Blue Jays in their Rogers Centre home. He allowed just one extra-base hit and the two walks issued were both to Jose Bautista. Shields used just 17 changeups on the afternoon; however, seven of the recorded outs including five swinging strikeouts. It took Shields just 95 pitches to complete his first shutout of the season.

5/9/07 vs. Orioles (Game Score 84)
9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 107 pitches

Unfortunately for Shields, this game came during the days of the Devil Rays. Despite holding the Baltimore Orioles scoreless for nine innings, Shields walked away with a no-decision for his efforts. Because the game lasted 10 innings, he did not even get credit for a complete game. Shields scattered three hits – one of extra base variety – and handed out just one walk (Jay Gibbons). On the other hand, the Devil Rays stranded 11 batters and went just 1 for 8 in scoring position. After leaving the game scoreless with 107 pitches, Shields watched Brian Stokes allow a home run on the ninth pitch of the 10th inning.

4/27/08 vs. Red Sox (Game Score 89)
9 IO, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 99 pitches

Because of the opponent – the Boston Red Sox – and the result – a two-hit shutout – some consider this the best performance of Shields’ career. In the early stages of the pennant-winning 2008 season, Shields was on top of his game against the rival Red Sox. The Rays’ righty allowed just three baserunners (two singles and a walk) and registered 27 outs in under 100 pitches. Considering the Red Sox lineup that day (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Coco Crisp, Jason Varitek, Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo), tossing a complete game shutout was not an easy task. He relied on a well-located fastball (68% strikes) and rolled up 13 groundballs en route to victory.

5/22/11 vs. Marlins (Game Score 93)
9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K, 126 pitches

In arguably the best pitched ballgame of the 2011 season so far, Shields set career highs in strikeouts (13) and pitches (126) against the Marlins in this interleague matchup. Gaby Sanchez accounted for two of the Marlins three singles and Logan Morrison was the only batter to achieve a four-ball count against Shields. One of the shining examples of pitching backwards, Shields threw 14 non-fastball first pitches including nine at-bats that ended in a strikeout. Shields induced a ridiculous 23 whiffs against the Marlins including 12 on that signature changeup.

5/9/08 vs. Los Angeles Angels (Game Score 93)
9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 92 pitches

Although this game score matches that of his complete game shutout of the Marlins, the difficulty of a one-hit, shutout with just 92 pitches used is something special. Exactly one year to the day after his gem against the Orioles in a loss, Shields was awarded the win against the Angels in a 2-0 pitcher’s duel. Brandon Wood was the only Angel hitter hit reach base on a hit while Erick Aybar reached on a hit-by-pitch. Of the 92 pitches he threw, 24 of them were changeups including 20 strikes (seven whiffs). Shields was almost dealt a similar fate as the previous season; however, Evan Longoria hit a two-run walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory for Shields and the Rays.

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