After solid pitching helped the Kansas City Royals end their longest losing streak of the season, James Shields will try to keep them on track at pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
Shields looks to continue his dominance on the road when he makes his first start at Petco in Wednesday night's finale of this three-game set with the San Diego Padres.The Royals (15-17) won for the first time in eight games at San Diego on Tuesday when Alex Gordon singled home Eric Hosmer to provide the difference in a 3-1, 11-inning victory that snapped a five-game skid."We knew that we were 0-7 in this place and we needed to change that," manager Ned Yost said. "Our pitching allowed us to do that tonight. ... It took us 11 innings to do it, but the pitching was tremendous."Kansas City would prefer to keep that trend going behind Shields (3-3, 3.11 ERA), who has earned each of his victories away from home.The veteran right-hander's 13 road wins since the start of last season tie him with St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright and C.J. Wilson of the Los Angeles Angels for the most in the majors in that span.Shields has dominated over his past 17 games as a visitor, going 12-1 with a 1.82 ERA. He's won each of his last three away outings this year, compiling a 1.71 ERA.His success on the road is in stark contrast to his issues at home, where he's lost both of his starts. Shields was pummeled for season highs of eight runs and 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings of an 8-2 loss to Detroit on Friday."Talk to me at the end of the season and I'll tell you what the home and away is. It's too early for that now," Shields told the team's official website.He's gone 3-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 home starts since being acquired from Tampa Bay prior to last season.Another strong performance on the road could be in order against the Padres, who own baseball's lowest batting average (.214) and have hit .181 while dropping five of seven.Andrew Cashner (2-4, 2.72) is all too familiar with San Diego's offensive shortcomings. He's been backed by an average of 2.53 runs while not getting any support in four of his seven starts.While the right-hander has lost three straight with a 5.00 ERA, he's watched the offense total six hits while failing to score a run in each of his last two.That was the case Friday when Cashner allowed two runs and four hits in six innings while the Padres had six singles in a 2-0 home loss to Arizona -- which owns the highest ERA in baseball at 4.94."I didn't think I did a very good job of a lot of stuff," Cashner said. "But I felt like I kept the team in the game, gave us a chance to win."He's certainly done that over his last two interleague starts -- both at home -- allowing two runs in 16 innings. That includes a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 6-0 victory over Detroit on April 11.Cashner is facing the Royals for the first time, and he'll have to contend with Hosmer, who has Tuesday's 11th-inning double and a homer among his four hits and three RBIs in this series.The first baseman is 11 for 26 (.423) with four doubles, two homers and eight RBIs over his last six interleague games, and he's batting .351 in his last eight road contests overall.
James Shields has increased his percentage of cutters thrown from 19 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2014, and opponents' batting average against the pitch has dropped from .235 to .190. Since the start of last season, the Padres are the only team in the league without a home run against a cutter thrown by a righty, compiling a league-worst .285 slugging percentage against such pitches over that time.