Big Game's biggest games
James Shields picks his five biggest games while playing for Tampa Bay.
1. 2008 World Series, Game 2, vs. Phillies
5⅔ innings, 7 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 104 pitches, Win
Shields has pitched much better games, but he felt he never pitched a bigger game — the only World Series game the Rays have ever won. "I don't think you can get any better than that," he said. "Maybe winning the World Series-winning game? But as a kid growing up, you always dream about being in the World Series. And the fact that I'm 1-0 in the World Series, that's pretty special to me."
2. First career win, vs. Angels, June 5, 2006
6 innings, 7 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 108 pitches, Win
Admittedly nervous in his big-league debut five days earlier at Baltimore (five runs over five innings in a no-decision), Shields was much calmer and more effective in his first Trop start. Making it better, he beat his hometown Angels and then-ace Jeff Weaver. "That was pretty special to me," he said.
3. Rays finale, vs. Baltimore, Oct. 2, 2012
9 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 15 strikeouts, 106 pitches, Loss
Shields' last game as a Ray was, arguably, his most impressive, though with one staggering exception — he lost 1-0 at the Trop by allowing a fourth-inning homer to Chris Davis. "That's one of the best games I've ever pitched," he said. "It might not be the impressive one like No. 1, but it's probably No. 3 for sure."
4. 2008 ALDS opener, vs. White Sox
6⅓ innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 100 pitches, Win
Shields again felt the setting was more important than the statistics as he got to pitch (and won) the first playoff game in franchise history. "I grew up in this organization," he said. "And to see us go from 100 losses a year and never have a winning season and now all of a sudden I'm pitching the first playoff game in Rays history, that to me was so cool."
5. First shutout, vs. Red Sox, April 27, 2008
9 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 99 pitches, Win
Shields wants every game to be a shutout. And he remains proud today of the first of his eight, even more so than his one-hitter against the Angels two starts later (a 2-0 win). "I want to include that one for sure," he said.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer