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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Call it a learning experience
MARLINS 8, RAYS 5: Rookie James Shields is already trying to put his first poor outing behind him.
By TIMES STAFF WRITER
Published June 27, 2006
MIAMI - Rookie James Shields has shown the Devil Rays a confident and aggressive attitude on the mound. He has shown off a dominating combination of a fastball and a "power changeup" that allows him to breeze through innings. He has shown an ability to win at the big-league level (four times in his first five starts) that belies his inexperience.
Monday, he showed he was human.
Shields was roughed up by the red-hot Marlins in an 8-5 defeat, leaving Dolphin Stadium with his first major-league loss and lessons in not relying too much on one pitch and how things can quickly go wrong.
"It was just one of those days," Shields said.
"You guys have been telling me, 'Why are you staying so cool this whole time?' Because something like this could happen any day. And that's why I do stay cool. I'm just going to put this behind me and get on with the next game."
"We've expected a lot out of this fellow, and he's done a great job," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm not upset; it's just a learning experience for him right now."
The Rays (33-44) led 3-2, thanks mainly to a home run and a run-scoring triple by rocking Rocco Baldelli, as Shields got two quick outs to start the home fifth.
But then everything changed.
Hanley Ramirez beat out a ground ball to third baseman Aubrey Huff for a single, stole second and went to third when Jorge Cantu couldn't handle Josh Paul's late throw. Miguel Cabrera walked. Mike Jacobs singled in a run. Josh Willingham singled in a run. Jeremy Hermida doubled in two runs. And Cody Ross doubled in another run.
The totals: Five Florida runs on five hits and a walk, all after two were out. And one dramatic shift in momentum.
"All of a sudden that blew up fast," Maddon said. "Five-run innings really are devastating. . . . That was the whole game right there, the five-run fifth."
"I think I was making some quality pitches and they were laying off of them," Shields said, "so then I was a little more aggressive and they were hitting them."
The Marlins earned it with disciplined at-bats, clutch hitting and what Maddon called "eagerness about them." But Shields had a hand in it, too, making the mistake of relying too much on his usually effective changeup.
"The go-to pitch maybe too often," Maddon said. "You pitch primarily with your fastball and you work off of that. When you overutilize your best pitch when it's not your fastball, sometimes the effectiveness can go away."
Shields didn't disagree.
"Without a doubt," Shields said. "It's a pitch I like to go to in tough situations, but sometimes you just have to change it up. In the beginning of the game these guys weren't hitting it very well. They made the adjustment, and I didn't make the adjustment in the last inning."
When the Rays swept the Marlins at Tropicana Field, they appeared to be the best team in Florida. But the Marlins - despite their youth and $15-million payroll that looks tiny even compared to the Rays' $35-million - have been a different team since, primarily thanks to pitching that Maddon described as "outrageously good" and a persistent offense.
They are 22-9 with a .710 winning percentage that is the best in the majors over that span, and they are 33-40 overall, though it doesn't seem to have mattered much to the south Florida fans, with an announced attendance Monday of 7,416.