Diamondbacks 7, Devil Rays 4.
James Shields was roughed up in his second straight start. As has been the case all season long, Shields was susceptible to the long ball allowing two home runs. The difference in the last two starts is that the home runs came at inopportune times, early in the game and with runners on base.

We have all heard about the amazing change-up that James Shields throws. The national media has even referred to it as one of the best change-ups in baseball if not one of the best pitches in baseball. When thrown correctly and thrown to the right spot it is as nasty as it comes. The problem that Shields faces is when the pitch does not have the proper sink to it or when Shields leaves the pitch up in the zone, it is basically a batting practice fastball. He can get away with that when the bases are empty or when he is leading 5-1.

In the third inning, Chad Tracy hit a 1-1 pitch over the right-field fence to give the D-Backs a 3-0 lead. In this case, Shields got the change up in, but he left it up and when it started to sink, it ended up right in the wheel-house for a left-handed hitter. An 87 mph pitch, down and in to a lefty is a strike, but often it is a 370 foot strike down the right field line. In the fourth inning Shields just left a fastball up to Eric Byrnes when Dioner Navarro was looking for a pitch out of the zone low and away. If you slow the pitch down, you can actually see the disgust on Shields’ face before Byrnes has even finished his swing.

We are not predicting the Apocalypse for James Shields. Quite the opposite. He will be fine. All great pitchers throw bad pitches. Shields just needs to learn that a change-up with nobody on is a lot different than a change-up with 2 runners on in a scoreless game. He will learn to bear down in the more crucial situations. He will learn that if he is going to miss, he needs to miss down…not up. James Shields is a young pitcher. These are just the growing pains that we all must suffer along with him.


*May have only seemed like 173 losses.



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