Orioles-Royals Preview


While James Shields has pitched extremely well in his last two starts for the Kansas City Royals, Baltimore's Ubaldo Jimenez has been even better during his last three with the Orioles.

Jimenez and Shields look to continue their recent dominance in Sunday's series finale at Kansas City.

In his first five starts with Baltimore, Jimenez (2-4, 4-02 ERA) went 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA, a slide that concluded April 25 when he yielded four runs, six hits and four walks in six innings of a 5-0 home loss to the Royals.

In three starts since, the right-hander has allowed one run over 19 2-3 innings in going 2-0. Jimenez gave up three hits and struck out seven over seven scoreless innings Tuesday, putting himself in line for the victory before Detroit scored four times in the ninth to win 4-1.

"Couldn't have asked for much better," manager Buck Showalter told the Orioles' official website about Jimenez.

The same can be said of Shields (5-3, 2.54) in his last two starts, during which he's yielded one run in 14 innings to win both. He gave up that run and struck out eight in seven innings of a 5-1 home victory over Colorado on Tuesday.

Shields also recorded his 1,500th strikeout.

"That was a pretty special moment," he said. "Once I realized it, it's kind of crazy to think - 1,500 strikeouts is quite a bit of strikeouts."

The right-hander has posted a 1.69 ERA while splitting his last two starts against the Orioles (22-19). He gave up a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz and two other hits over seven innings of a 9-3 victory at Baltimore on April 27, his most recent meeting.

Shields faces a tall order in following up Danny Duffy, who took a perfect game into the seventh inning Saturday and allowed two hits in a 1-0 victory over a Baltimore team that won the first two of this set by a combined 6-1.

Norichika Aoka had half of his team's four hits and scored on Billy Butler's first-inning single to help the Royals (21-21) win for the seventh time in 11 contests.

Butler is 2 for 18 in his last five games, but has gone 7 for his last 22 against Jimenez with a home run and a double.

Adam Jones broke up Duffy's perfect game with a single for the Orioles, who had the bases loaded in the ninth when Cruz struck out to hand them their fifth defeat in seven contests.

"We found a way to get back in it in the ninth and had the right guys at the plate,'' said bench coach John Russell, who was acting manager with Showalter attending his daughter's graduation. "We scraped and scrapped. We still found a way to make it interesting."

Jones is batting .340 during a 12-game hitting streak, but is 1 for his last 11 with four strikeouts against Shields.