James Shields can’t buy a win. A look at his last few starts highlights the problems that are plaguing the Royals. Over his last 4 starts, Shields’ ERA is sitting at 2.48. During this time, Shields has pitched 31 innings, walked only 5 batters and struck-out one shy of a batter per inning. Fairly impressive numbers thus far in the month of May for the Royals newly acquired ace. Despite his performance, James hasn’t won a game since April. A lack of run support and a struggling bullpen is keeping the Royals from getting wins out of their best arm in the rotation.
Going back to the May 6th start against the struggling Chicago White Sox, Shields gave up just 2 hits, 2 walks and no runs while striking out 9. The Royals scored off of a double by Butler in the first and that would be all that Shields would need, shutting the Sox down for 8 innings. Holland would come in to close off the game in the 9th and give up a walk and 4 hits allowing the Sox to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Two innings and one home run later, the Royals lose a very winnable game.
Shields’ next start was against the Yankees who would score first off of a throwing error by Moustakas in the 3rd. The Royals answered back with a run in the top of the third and a solo home run by Butler in the 4th, but that would be it for the Royals offense for the day. A 2 run shot by Vernon Wells in the 5th handed Shields another tough loss in yet another very close game.
May 17th sent the Royals to Oakland. The Athletics sent the very hittable Jarrod Parker to the mound. David Lough doubled in what would be the Royals only run of the game in the 3rd. Shields carried a shutout into the 7th inning when he gave up a solo shot to Josh Donaldson and then another in the 8th to Adam Rosales. Game over.
Shields got his next start against the last place Houston Astros. He gave up a 2 run homer in the 1st to J.D. Martinez. Despite going on to strike out 7 Astros in the game, the 2 run lead would be enough to carry Houston through the game. The Royals scored once in the third.
The Royals acquired James Shields to do exactly what he has been doing, keeping the runs to a minimum. They aren’t paying him to score runs, that’s something the rest of the team can and should be doing. Scoring 5 runs in 4 games behind their ace isn’t going to cut it. The Royals have to win these close games to contend. That means not letting the bull pen give away the win and it means scoring more than once a game.