Shields nearly matched his season total for strikeouts Thursday
night while hurling eight dominant innings, and Kansas City
completed a three-game series sweep of the Astros with a 5-1 victory
at Minute Maid Park.
Shields (1-2) allowed one run on four hits -- all singles -- and two
walks while fanning 12 batters, including seven in succession
starting with Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler leading off the
Astros left fielder Alex Presley snapped that string with his
one-out infield single in the eighth before Shields struck out
Fowler for a third time with Presley and shortstop Jonathan Villar
on first and second. Shields closed his night by getting right
fielder George Springer to fly out to right.
Blake Stein holds the Royals record for consecutive strikeouts,
fanning eight in succession against the Milwaukee Brewers on June
"I was just pounding the strike zone today and being really
aggressive with my fastball and really locating and being on the
same page with Salvy (catcher Salvador Perez)," Shields said. "With
that kind of combination and our defense playing the way it did
today, it's a nice win for us.
"I knew I struck out the side twice (in the sixth and seventh), but
I'm not really trying to focus on that, I'm just trying to focus on
getting outs. We were pounding the strike zone and getting strike
one and getting ahead of the hitters and that's an aggressive team
over there, and when you get ahead in the count and make your
pitches, you're successful."
Shields entered his fourth start of this season with 14 strikeouts
over 19 innings of work. The Royals (6-6) began the series winless
on the road before limiting the Astros (5-11) to seven runs over 29
Presley and Villar were the only Houston starters not to whiff
against Shields. Fowler, Springer, first baseman Marc Krauss and
third baseman Matt Dominguez finished a combined 2-for-15 with nine
Astros right-hander Scott Feldman (2-1), making his first start off
the bereavement list, allowed more hits to the Royals through his
first five innings (eight) than he had in his first three starts
"They were putting the bat on the ball early and often," Feldman
said. "It was tough to get some swing and misses."
Kansas City scratched across an unearned run in the first inning
before third baseman Mike Moustakas delivered an RBI single in the
second that scored left fielder Alex Gordon and doubled the Royals'
lead to 2-0.
Kansas City doubled its lead again in the fourth, with shortstop
Alcides Escobar drilling a two-out, two-run double to the
left-center field gap. Perez added an RBI double in the fifth for a
5-0 lead that seemed gratuitous given how exceptional Shields was
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"After the first inning, the second inning he was getting the job
done quick," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He kept his pitch count
down so from the second, third inning on I'm thinking we've got a
chance to go nine here if the pitch count stays manageable.
"He started to lose it just a little bit in the eighth inning. His
command started to tail off just a little bit but he did a great
job. He had everything going."
Shields finally showed some vulnerability in the fifth, surrendering
a single to Dominguez after issuing a leadoff walk to designated
hitter Chris Carter. However, Dominguez was gunned down vying for
second base, essentially eliminating the potential for a big inning.
Carter later scored on a sacrifice fly to left, with Gordon
producing a spectacular diving catch. That was the lone whiff of
hope for Houston.
"It's just not smart, obviously," Porter said of Dominguez's mental
error. "I went and asked Matt Dominguez, 'Do you think you're
invisible? You are down 5-0 and the ball is right in front of you.'
So, to answer (the) question, no, I don't like it. There was nothing
smart about it, and next question."
NOTES: Royals manager Ned Yost dropped DH Billy Butler to sixth in
the batting order, the first time this season he hit someplace other
than cleanup. Butler singled in the 10th inning Wednesday night,
snapping an 0-for-19 skid dating back to April 9. ... The Astros
selected LHP Raul Valdes from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned
LHP Kevin Chapman to the RedHawks. Chapman was 1-0 with a 12.27 ERA
in six appearances with Houston. ... Royals CF Lorenzo Cain was
placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain. LHP
Justin Marks replaced Cain on the 25-man roster.
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