ANAHEIM, Calif. — All the talk about James Shields being too hyped up for Tuesday's start was just hype, he said afterward.
Instead, Shields said the reason for his poor start, and the Rays' resulting 6-1 loss, was simply a matter of the Angels hitting good pitches, and an umpire making a bad call.
Shields had plenty of reasons to be excited going into the game. He was coming off his abbreviated brawl-starting outing in Boston. He was heading into his resulting suspension and wouldn't pitch again for more than a week. And he badly wanted to do well for all the Anaheim-area friends and relatives who were coming to watch him, including his 82-year-old maternal grandmother, for whom he rented a suite.
Manager Joe Maddon admitted before the game he was concerned about it and said he hoped Shields could get through the first inning and settle in. Maddon didn't feel any better in the first when he saw Shields clocked at an unusually high 94 mph and said afterward he thought Shields was a bit too amped early on.
"There was a lot going on for him," Maddon said.
Shields got off to a rough start, retiring the first batter, then allowing, in order, a single to Maicer Izturis, a home run to Garret Anderson, a single to Vladimir Guerrero, a single to Torii Hunter, a fielder's choice grounder to Casey Kotchman (on a double play the Rays thought they'd turned), a double to Howie Kendrick and a single to Jeff Mathis.
The home run and the unturned double play were the real problems, Shields said, not his emotions.
"I thought I threw pretty good pitches in the first inning and things didn't go my way," he said, speaking in clipped words, his frustration with the evening evident. "I wasn't hyped up at all. They hit good pitches. It could have easily been the other way. He can say all he wants, and that's fine."
Maddon said the key to the inning, and the night, was the potential double play. The Angels led 2-0 and had men on first and second and one out. Kotchman, the Seminole High product, grounded to first baseman Willy Aybar, who threw to shortstop Jason Bartlett, but umpire Derryl Cousins said the return throw to Shields at first was not in time to get the inning-ending out.
"I felt we did," Shields said. "I asked the umpire if he beat me on the throw or if I pulled my foot or what. He said he beat me on the throw. We get the double play and we're out of the inning. It cost me three more hits and two more runs."
"We should have turned that double play," Maddon said. "That was the play. Sometimes it's not about the errors, it's about the plays you don't make, and I thought that was huge."
Shields settled down and made only one more mistake, though it was costly, a two-run homer to Guerrero in the fifth. Still, he stuck around until the end, allowing a season-high matching 10 hits and striking out nine, and logged his third complete game, most by a Ray since 2002.
Maddon said Shields recovered for well from the first inning that he expected to see zeroes the rest of the way. "It was almost that, except for the one pitch (to Guerrero),'' Maddon said.
Shields dropped to 4-5 on the season and has just one win in his past eight starts. The road has been a problem — though Shields said there is no reason except "bad luck" — as he is 1-4 with a 6.99 ERA, compared to 3-1, 1.72 at home.
Meanwhile, the same Rays lineup that produced 13 runs on Monday was shut down and nearly shut out by Angels starter Jered Weaver, who allowed only three hits through seven shutout innings, then a solo homer to Gabe Gross in the eighth.
Rookie Evan Longoria had two of the Rays hits off Weaver, a fellow product of Long Beach State, which meant it was at least a good night for LBS coach Mike Weathers, who was at the game, which lasted just 2:01.
The loss guaranteed the Rays a losing record on the nine-game road trip, as they are 3-5 heading into today's finale. Overall, it dropped them to 38-27, but they remained one game behind the AL East leading Red Sox, who lost to Baltimore.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]com.