Shields' 100th win lifts KC to most victories since 1989
Royals pick up 85th 'W' of season as Carroll records 1,000th career hit
By Dick Kaegel / 9/28/2013 12:55 AM ET
CHICAGO -- It was a night for nice numbers.
James Shields won the 100th game of his career, and the Royals posted their highest win total in 24 years with a 6-1 victory against the White Sox on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Shields improved his record to 13-9 in his first season with Kansas City, adding to the 87 victories he had for Tampa Bay. His first K.C. team reached 85 victories, the most in any season since the 1989 club went 92-70.
"He's given us not only No. 1-starter stuff, he's provided great leadership," manager Ned Yost said. "He's been a great example for our guys and he's a big part of our season -- why we're at 85 wins now."
In addition, Royals veteran infielder Jamey Carroll banged the 1,000th hit of his career.
Shields had his strikeout pitch working, and when he fanned Jordan Danks to open the sixth inning, it marked the 21st game in the pitcher's career that he reached double-digits strikeouts. It was his second time with the Royals, the first coming on Sept. 16 with 10 against Cleveland.
Then, of all things, Gordon Beckham broke up Shields' shutout with a home run into the left-field bullpen as the Royals' Alex Gordon climbed the fence in a vain attempt for a catch. Fireworks lit up the South Side sky.
Suddenly things got really strange. Alexei Ramirez followed by pulling another drive toward the bullpen, and again Gordon climbed up and thrust out his glove. The crowd of 24,474 roared. Another home run!
"I thought the ball was gone. I did," Yost said. "I didn't know what happened."
What happened was that Gordon quickly perceived the ball wasn't hit quite that far.
"I messed up the play and tried to play it off as best I could," Gordon said. "Beckham hit the home run, and I tried to rob it and it was out of my reach. Then once Ramirez hit it, I knew it was high enough and I thought he got all of it, so I just put my head down and ran back, found the fence, and once I realized it wasn't going to go over, I tried to play if off as easily as possible. And I guess I did."
Indeed. Gordon dropped down, turned and caught the ball in the shadow of the fence. But the stadium fireworks went off anyway in a premature home run celebration.
"He deked the whole stadium," Shields said. "When he climbed up on the wall, I figured it was a home run. I looked back at the umpire and asked for a new ball, and the next thing you know, the fireworks are going off. I'm looking at Salvy [Perez, catcher] and he's going, 'He caught it, he caught it.' I looked back and Ramirez was still rounding the bases, and I thought, 'What's going on around here?'"
Slyly, Gordon walked away from the fence and tossed the ball back to the infield as Shields saluted him with a doff of his cap.
"I was joking around with the [White Sox] bullpen," Gordon said. "I don't know if they thought it was funny, but I just thought it was a horrible play by me and was just kind of laughing, and then I heard the fireworks. I wasn't trying to deke anyone, but that's just how it came off."
Shields pitched seven innings, giving up just four hits and one walk to go with his 10 strikeouts. His buddy from Tampa Bay days, Wade Davis, pitched the last two innings perfectly to ensure No. 100 remained intact.
"A hundred wins in the big leagues, it's a pretty special moment. Guys congratulated me as I came off the field after the game. It's a special moment, I'll definitely take it in," Shields said.
"I had maybe four, five wins going into August and I had a tough road ahead of me to be able to get that 100 so I felt like grinding it out the last two months and I felt I did pretty well."
Beginning in August, Shields won eight of 12 starts for a fast finish.
The Royals opened up on White Sox left-hander Chris Sale with three runs in the first inning. Emilio Bonfacio walked and Eric Hosmer singled, Billy Butler banged a two-run double and Lorenzo Cain added an RBI single.
"I don't know if we've ever got three runs off him, period," Hosmer said. "He's nasty. We got to him early and we were aggressive."
Carroll drilled a double high off the left-field wall in the fourth inning for his 1,000th career hit. It was close to being a home run. After Gordon was hit by a pitch, Bonifacio's single sent Carroll home so his milestone hit was productive.
"Going into this year, I thought it'd be something kind of cool. But this year hasn't been that great," Carroll said. "I think there are more people finally relieved than me that have been following it. But it's something that one day you can look back and have a lot of pride in when your kids are asking what that ball's for and what that jersey is all about. So I'm just thankful that it ended before the season was over. It was going to be a long offseason if it didn't."
Sale was pulled after 5 1/3 innings and 96 pitches. He was relieved by right-hander Jake Petricka, who promptly gave up two runs. Carroll walked and was thrown out trying to steal second for the second out. But Alcides Escobar's single, Gordon's double and Bonifacio's single added two runs.
Soon the Royals were celebrating their biggest winning season in 24 years.
"Just keep rollin'," Yost said. "We're doing fine."