When Shields pitches at Tropicana Field, everything is beautiful. Unfortunately for Shields and the Rays, Tuesday night's game took place in California and a 6-1 loss to the Angels followed with a crowd of 37,610 watching at Angel Stadium.
The loss prevented the Rays from moving back into a tie for first place in the American League East, as the first-place Red Sox lost to the Orioles. Tuesday's loss also moved the Rays' record to 3-5 since leaving home, thereby ensuring a losing road trip.
In seven home starts this season, Shields is 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA, including a two-hit shutout against the Red Sox and a one-hit shutout against the Angels on May 9. After allowing six earned runs in eight innings Tuesday night, Shields actually lowered his road ERA from 7.06 to 6.99 as his record away from home moved to 1-4.
When asked about his road fortunes, Shields replied: "Bad luck, pitching well. What are you going to do?"
Rays manager Joe Maddon could not put a finger on the disparity between Shields' home and road results, either.
"I don't know," Maddon said. "You saw [Shields'] velocity was the same. I saw some really good changeups. He broke out the curveball. He had all of his pitches going on. ... Overall, he did not pitch badly. I don't have a reason.
"As these guys get more experience, I think they'll be able to handle the road situation better, hopefully feel as comfortable on the road as we do at home. I think that's more than anything what it is. It's not lack of stuff or preparation, or any of that."
To Shields' credit, he finished what he started, posting his third complete game of the season, giving him the most complete games by a Rays pitcher in a season since 2002.
"It did not surprise me; he's got that kind of ability and mental toughness to do that sort of thing," said Maddon, complimenting Shields for not giving in despite falling behind.
But what might have been for the Rays right-hander was obscured by the six runs accrued by the Angels in the first and fifth innings.
In the first inning Garret Anderson hit a two-run homer off a Shields changeup to stake the Angels to a 2-0 lead. The homer should have been all the Angels got in the inning after Casey Kotchman grounded into what appeared to be a 3-6-1 double play. But Kotchman was ruled safe at first and the Angels parlayed the inning extension into two more runs when Howie Kendrick added an RBI double and Jeff Mathis an RBI single to make it 4-0 after one inning.
"I felt we did [get the double play]," Shields said. "I asked the umpire if he beat me on the throw or I pulled my foot, and he said he beat me on the throw. We get the double play and we're out of the inning. It cost me [two] more hits and two more runs."
Shields faced the minimum from the second inning through the fourth, but with two outs in the fifth and a runner aboard, Vladimir Guerrero hit his ninth home run of the season on an 0-1 Shields cutter to put the Angels up, 6-0.
"Vladimir is just getting very toasty right now, and you have to be very careful with him. He's squaring everything up right now, he's seeing the ball really well," Maddon said. "It's very obvious, and Garret looks pretty good, too. When you have those two guys going in the middle, it makes all the difference in the world."
While Shields had a tough outing, Angels starter Jered Weaver limited the Rays to one run on four hits. Gabe Gross' home run in the eighth was the only blemish on Weaver's eight innings of work before Scot Shields finished for the Angels with a scoreless ninth.
Weaver "hit his spots, you know," said Eric Hinske, who went 0-for-3 in the Rays' cleanup spot. "I think we hit some balls hard tonight at guys that got him out of some stuff, but give him credit -- he pitched in and out with his fastball. He used his changeup well. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap. He pitched a good game."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less