The three pitchers with the longest active scoreless streaks in the American League combined to put the Kansas City Royals back into sole possession of first place in the AL Central on Wednesday.
The Royals met the challenge of the Detroit Tigers head-on thanks to the work of James Shields, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis.
Shields lives up to 'Big Game James' moniker
Shields has now thrown 18 1/3 straight scoreless innings, and this marked his second straight scoreless start.
This is the first time Shields has had consecutive scoreless starts since June 5 and 11, 2006. If that seems like a long time ago, it was. Those were the second and third starts of Shields’ career.
Over the past four seasons, Shields has 19 scoreless starts of at least seven innings. OnlyClayton Kershaw (27) and Hiroki Kuroda (21) have more such starts in that span.
Shields has been really good in the season’s final month the past four seasons. His September and October record in that timeframe is 12-5 with a 2.30 ERA.
Herrera the flamethrower
Herrera has thrown 29 2/3 straight scoreless innings over 29 appearances. The most recent run he was charged with came June 24 against the Dodgers (He has allowed 2 of 17 inherited runners since then to score).
The best thing for Herrera of late is he’s throwing nothing but strikes. He hasn’t walked anyone in his past nine appearances, a span of 8 2/3 innings. Prior to that, he was walking batters at a rate of almost four every nine innings.
No one better than Davis
Davis extended his scoreless streak to 30 2/3 innings by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. He’s recorded three saves in the past six days while filling in for injured closer Greg Holland. In those three games, he has faced nine batters and retired eight, six by strikeout.
The temporary move to closer has come with a little extra oomph on his fastball. In the past three games, his heater has averaged 97.2 mph, nearly 2 mph better than his season average of 95.4.
Davis is nearing the finish line for one of the best seasons by a reliever in the history of the sport. He has a 0.70 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP with 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
Davis and Herrera also have combined on an amazing stat: Neither has allowed a home run this season.
If that holds, they will be the first pair of teammates in 79 years to throw at least 60 innings in a season without allowing a home run. The latest pair to do that was Fritz Ostermueller and Jack Wilson of the 1935 Red Sox.