James Shields' exhibition season has gone as well as he could expect. Except for one pitch.
Shields struck out seven in six innings and allowed his first earned run of spring training as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Saturday.
Tampa Bay's scheduled opening-day starter, Shields allowed four hits and walked none. He had thrown 11 consecutive scoreless innings before Andrew McCutchen homered for the first time in the exhibition season, connecting on a fastball in the sixth.
''I was going to go down and away with the fastball,'' Shields said. ''It leaked back over the plate.''
Shields threw 46 of 67 pitches for strikes. He had not expected to pitch past the fifth.
''I was ahead in the count,'' he said. ''I was really efficient with my pitches. That's a recipe for success. You get to do that, you get to go deeper into games.''
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Rays wore green necklaces, the Pirates wore green hats, and the teams used green bases.