James Shields pitched his first complete game as a Royal on Saturday night and yielded just two hits in doing so. And, still, it wasn’t enough because of one swing by an old adversary.
Jose Bautista rocked a two-run homer in the sixth inning that carried the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-2 victory over Shields and the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
“When you’re facing (R.A.) Dickey on the other side, who is pretty good, you can’t make mistakes,” Shields said. “I felt I made two bad mistakes, and obviously, it cost us tonight.
“To Bautista, I was trying to get the ball down, but I left it right over the middle of the plate. And that leadoff walk (to Munenori Kawasaki prior to the Bautista homer).”
Shields, 1-2, is well acquainted with Bautista after spending the previous seven years at American League East-rival Tampa Bay. And this was the fourth time in 28 career confrontations that ended in a Bautista homer.
“I know them pretty well,” Shields said. “They’re a pretty good hitting team. If you make mistakes, they’re going to hit you. Tonight, I felt I made two bad mistakes.”
Bautista’s homer was decisive only because the Royals managed little against Dickey and the Jays’ bullpen, although they didn’t go quietly in the ninth against closer Casey Janssen.
“We could never muster a consistent attack on (Dickey),” manager Ned Yost said. “His knuckleball was really dancing tonight. We just could never get any consistent momentum going against him.”
Dickey, 1-2 exited after his 100th pitch, which Jarrod Dyson sliced for a one-out double to left in the seventh. In came lefty Darren Oliver, the son of former Royal outfielder/first baseman Bob Oliver.
Dyson immediately stole third, which turned into a run when Chris Getz put down a perfect drag-bunt single. But Oliver, now in his 20th season, struck out Alex Gordon and retired Alcides Escobar on a fly to center.
The run was charged to Dickey, who gave up five hits in 61/3 innings while striking out four and walking two. He believed he had plenty left when lifted from the game by manager John Gibbons, the former Royals’ bench coach.
“I just didn’t want Gibby to have to go to the pen that early when I felt like I had handled what was going on fairly well,” Dickey said. “I had a pretty good knuckleball there at the end.
“But it’s all right. We won the game, and that’s what’s most important.”
This was the Dickey whom the Blue Jays believed they acquired last December from the Mets after he won the National League Cy Young Award by going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA last season.
This guy; not the one who allowed 12 runs (10 earned) and 15 hits over 10 2/3 innings in his two previous starts.
The Royals were impressed.
“That knuckleball was dancing,” first baseman Billy Butler said. “You can’t try to make a hit. You have to make it be there (in the strike zone).”
Sergio Santos inherited that 3-1 lead from Oliver to start the eighth. Santos started the inning by walking Butler, but he struck out Salvy Perez and retired Lorenzo Cain on a fly to center.
Gibbons then played the percentages by bringing in Brett Cecil for a left-on-left matchup against Mike Moustakas — and Cecil overmatched Moustakas for a strikeout.
Janssen yielded a run in the ninth on Gordon’s two-out RBI single before closing out the victory for his third save. The Royals, 6-5, now need a victory in Sunday’s series finale to avoid a three-game sweep.
It amounted to another tough-luck loss for Shields, who previously lost 1-0 on opening day in Chicago. The only hit he permitted Saturday other than Bautista’s homer was a leadoff double by Macier Izturis in the third.
That led to the game’s first run.
Izturis went to third on Henry Blanco’s grounder to second, which caused the Royals to shorten their infield, and outfield, for Kawasaki, who replaced injured shortstop Jose Reyes in the lineup.
Kawasaki’s drive to right was just deep enough to score the run. Izturis’ slide moved Perez’s planted foot just enough to reach the plate prior to the tag for a 1-0 lead.
That’s how umpire Jerry Meals saw it, but Perez wasn’t sure.
“If you see the replay slow,” Perez said, “you’ll see he pushed my foot, but he never touched the home plate. My foot touched the home plate, not his foot.”
Gordon opened the Royals’ third with a bloop single to left that extended his hitting streak to 10 games, but Escobar followed by grounding into a double play.
Moustakas sent Colby Rasmus to the center-field wall to run down a one-out drive in the fourth. Rasmus slammed into the wall after making the catch but held onto the ball.
Getz’s one-out double past first in the bottom of the inning provided the Royals with another threat. Getz went to third on Gordon’s grounder to first, but Dickey held the 1-0 lead when Escobar hit a hopper to the mound.
Shields said he wasn’t bothered by the first run but cited a leadoff walk to Kawasaki in the sixth as his only mistake other than the hanging curve to Bautista.
“The Izturis run is going to happen,” Shields said. “To me, it’s unacceptable to walk the leadoff hitter right there.”
Kawasaki worked back from a 1-2 hole for the walk. Emilio Bonifacio fouled off a two-strike bunt for a strikeout before Kawasaki advanced on Melky Cabrera’s grounder to second.
A wild pitch moved Kawasaki to third before Bautista crushed a 2-1 curve to left for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead. It traveled an estimated 417 feet.
And did so in a hurry.