Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Breaking down James Shields vs. Oakland

The Kansas City Royals will have their guy on the mound Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, in front of their fans.

“Big Game” James Shields opposes Oakland left-hander Jon Lester, who doesn’t shy away from big moments, either. It should be an incredible game.

Earlier on the blog, I broke down Lester’s career against Kansas City. He’s been outstanding against the Royals throughout his career and is 3-0 against KC this season.

Shields, meanwhile, is no stranger to the A’s. He’s 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA covering 103.2 career innings against Oakland. Against the A’s, Shields has allowed 98 hits and 44 earned runs while walking 21 and striking out 87.

But in his last four starts against Oakland since 2012, Shields is 3-1 against the A’s with a 2.03 ERA covering 31 innings.

In 14 career starts against the Athletics, Shields has had only a couple of throwaways.

While with Tampa Bay on July 27, 2011, he allowed 12 hits and 10 earned runs in four innings of a 13-4 loss.

In his first start against Oakland, on Sept. 8, 2007, Shields allowed seven hits and six runs in 3.2 innings for the Rays.

Otherwise, he has pitched at least six innings in every other start against the A’s. Shields is 2-0 against Oakland this season, having allowed 11 hits and five runs in 14 innings.

Shields and Lester, old foes from their days in the American League East, surprisingly have gone head to head only five other times. Lester is 3-1 against Shields; neither received a decision in a 2007 game won by Boston over Tampa Bay, 12-6.

In the second game of a double-header on Sept. 3, 2009, Lester pitched eight shutout innings against Shields and the Rays during a 4-0 Boston win. Shields allowed six hits and three runs in six innings in that game.

On May 25, 2010, Lester pitched six shutout innings during a 2-0 Red Sox win over Tampa Bay. In that one, Shields went eight innings, allowing only four hits and two runs.

In the first game of a double-header on Aug. 16, 2011, Lester was again outstanding during a 3-1 Boston win. He allowed only three hits and a run in seven innings, striking out eight. Shields gave up just three hits and three runs in eight innings.

Shields got the better of Lester on Sept. 11, 2011, allowing just seven hits and a run during 8.1 innings in a 9-1 Tampa Bay win. Lester lasted just four innings in that start, allowing eight hits and four runs.

Shields has had a lot of success against most of the Oakland hitters, but has been hurt by the home run ball when pitching against the A’s. Outfielder Josh Reddick is 7 of 22 in his career against Shields and three of those hits have been home runs. Shields has given up 16 homers to Oakland in 393 A’s at-bats.

Oakland DH Adam Dunn is just 7 of 35 against Shields and has only one homer. Third baseman Josh Donaldson, who led Oakland this season with 29 homers, has only one against Shields in nine at-bats. Shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielders Brandon Moss and Coco Crisp are a combined 9 of 54 against Shields.

Shields vs. Lester is postseason baseball at its finest. They are the aces of their respective staffs and have pitched in many big games during their careers. Can’t wait for this one.

Thanks for reading.

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