James Shields has been enjoying life on the road, where he’s proven nearly unbeatable over the last year.
He’s been pretty sharp against the Los Angeles Angels, too.
Shields tries to keep rolling as the Kansas City Royals continue a three-game set against the surging Angels on Saturday.
While a majority of pitchers tend to pitch better at home than on the road, Shields (6-3, 2.67 ERA) has been lights out in opposing parks, going 13-1 with a 1.72 ERA in his last 18 outings. The right-hander’s 14 road wins since the start of last season are tied with St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the most in baseball.
Shields is looking to win a fourth consecutive start overall after yielding three runs over seven innings in Sunday’s 8-6 victory over Baltimore.
He hasn’t faced the Angels since 2012, but they probably aren’t looking forward to seeing him. The former All-Star went 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in his last nine starts versus Los Angeles while with Tampa Bay, striking out 67 and walking seven over 65 1-3 innings.
"Their lineup, one through nine, is pretty solid," Shields told MLB’s official website. "They’ve got guys who get on. They’ve got guys over there who are RBI machines. And, they can play small ball as well. When they get on base, there’s a lot for a pitcher to deal with. Overall, it’s a team to be reckoned with."
Despite his success against the Angels, Shields has had trouble with Howie Kendrick, who is 13 for 23 with six extra-base hits in their matchups.
Kendrick extended his hitting streak to eight behind a pair of singles in Friday’s 6-1 victory. Mike Trout also came up with two hits – including his ninth homer – after missing the previous game with a hamstring issue.
Trout is batting .400 with four home runs in eight games against the Royals since the start of last season, and Los Angeles has taken five straight from Kansas City by a combined 28-9 score.
The Angels (27-20) have also won 11 of 14 overall, including a season best-tying three in a row while outscoring foes 17-5.
"We’re playing much better," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We’ve got a ways to go."
The Royals (23-24) are looking to avoid a sixth loss in nine games after going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position Friday. Norichika Aoki collected three of the team’s five hits.
"You’re not going to score many runs when you get five hits on the night, and three are from one guy," manager Ned Yost said.
The Royals are 19-4 when scoring at least four runs compared to 4-20 when they don’t. They will try to bounce back against rookie Matt Shoemaker (2-1, 3.06), who has posted a 2.45 ERA in winning both his starts since replacing Hector Santiago in the rotation.
"I want to attack each game as, ‘I have opportunity here. Let’s roll with it,’" said Shoemaker, who threw six-plus innings of one-run ball to beat Tampa Bay 6-2 on Sunday. "I want to execute my pitches, go as deep in the game as I can and help the team win."
Shoemaker will try to quiet Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, who is 7 for 15 with two homers and nine RBIs over the last five games. Gordon has hit safely in seven straight road meetings against the Angels, going 13 for 28.