ShieldsJames Shields scattered four hits over nine innings against the Florida Marlins as he picked up his major league-leading fifth complete game. He had five complete games in his first five seasons combined.
The five complete games already tied Joe Kennedy's franchise record set back in 2002. Shields is one of six players since 2000 to throw five complete games within his team's first 75 games of a season.
It was his second complete game against the Marlins this season in two starts against the in-state rival. What's most impressive about this outing is how Shields varied his approach from the previous start.
On May 22 against the Marlins, Shields threw 35 percent fastballs and 21 percent curveballs. On Sunday, Shields threw 29 percent fastballs and 30 percent curveballs, his second-highest percentage in a start this season.
Shields particularly varied his repertoire to put hitters away. He still relied primarily on his devastating changeup, but threw his curveball nearly twice as often with two strikes as he did the last time against the Marlins. He threw 10 curveballs with two strikes and induced five outs, including four by strikeout, without allowing a hit.
Most Complete Games
Not to be outdone, Justin Verlander threw his second consecutive complete game, giving him four on the season, tied for the second-most in the majors. It's his 11th complete game since 2009, third-most among all pitchers during that span.
Verlander shut down the Colorado Rockies on Sunday using his fastball and curveball more than usual. Eleven of his 13 outs with two strikes came on those two pitches, including four of his five strikeouts.
He excelled by finishing batters off when he had them down in the count. Verlander took 14 hitters to a two-strike count, didn't allow a hit and didn't walk anyone. It was his first start this season in which he didn't allow a hit or walk a batter after going to two strikes.
Through 15 starts Verlander has a 0.85 WHIP, best in the majors among starters. In the divisional era, only three times has a starter finished a season with a sub-0.90 WHIP with 15 or more starts in a season. Each of the three times that pitcher went on to win the Cy Young award (2000 Pedro Martinez, 1994-95 Greg Maddux).
Elsewhere around the majors
It's been a tough month in the city of Miami, with the Marlins now 1-18 in June. The Marlins' 10-game losing streak is the franchise's longest since 1999 and just one game shy of tying the franchise record. The 18 losses are just two shy of tying the franchise record for losses in a month, and the Marlins still have nine games to play.
According to Elias, the Baltimore Orioles, who went 1-22 in April of 1988, own the record for the worst win percentage by any team in a single month.