Shields notches 200 IP for ninth straight year
SAN DIEGO -- If there's any one thing James Shields has been known for during his Major Leagues career -- and, no, we're not talking about that silly nickname -- it's his durability.
When he struck out Jake Lamb to end the fourth inning of Sunday's 4-2 loss to the D-backs at Petco Park, Shields eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the ninth time in as many seasons -- a feat no other current big league pitcher has pulled off.
But as his 2015 is winding down- - he could start the regular-season finale on Sunday in Los Angeles -- Shields' first season with the Padres might better be known for its wild peaks and valleys, which has essentially mirrored that of the team.
After he yielded four runs on nine hits, including three home runs, and four walks against the D-backs, Shields tried to put it all in perspective.
"I made some bad pitches," he said. "That's kind of the way my season has gone."
Not all the time, mind you.
Shields, who in February signed the biggest free-agent contract in team history, a four-year, $75 million deal, has had 10 starts where he's allowed one or fewer runs. He's also had five starts where he's allowed five or more runs.
The home runs Sunday, one to David Peralta and two to Ender Inciarte, including the two-run shot in the seventh inning that proved to be the game-winner, gave him 33 home runs allowed this season, tying him with Kyle Kendrick of the Rockies for the most in the big leagues.
He allowed seven home runs to the D-backs this season, including four in a start in Phoenix on May 8. On that day, the D-backs were patient with him. On Sunday, they were aggressive. It's been that kind of season, he lamented.
"You're going to get this out of James; six-plus [innings], 100 or so pitches and he is going to give your team a chance to win," said Padres interim manager Pat Murphy.
The home runs aren't a new development. Shields allowed a Major League-high 34 home runs in 2010. He's had success despite allowing the long ball in the past, but not nearly as much. He's walked 81 batters this season, the highest in his career.
"I'm not going to allow that many home runs next season," Shields said. "I'm not going to walk that many guys next year, either."
Shields, who is at 202 1/3 innings, is scheduled to make his last start on Sunday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers -- the same place he started the season nearly five months ago. Today, he's 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 33 starts.
He'll do so hoping for better results ahead, for himself and the Padres.
"I've definitely thrown better, no doubt about it." Shields said of the season. "I go out there every five days and pitch with my heart on my sleeve. I'm going to be a bulldog out as much as I can. I'm hoping for better things next year."