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SPOTLIGHT
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Royals roll to win

Published on -5/8/2014, 10:10 AM

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By Andy Mccullough

McClatchy-Tribune

A clubhouse attendant packed James Shields' strobe light into a cardboard box. A team official reduced the volume of the speaker system. Into the room strode Shields, the man at the center of an 8-0 Royals romp over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, a victory accrued when the team's best pitcher operated without his sharpest weapons.

"I didn't think my stuff was that good today, to be honest with you," Shields said. "I was erratic. I was all over the place. It was just a grind day."

Shields holds himself to a higher standard than most. In the clubhouse, he facilitates chemistry. Hence, the dimmed lights and throbbing bass in the wake of each victory. On the mound, he sets a more concrete example for his teammates to follow.

His seven scoreless innings on Wednesday created the backbone of a light-hearted afternoon. Shields (4-3, 2.70 ERA) toed the tightrope but never wavered while facing one of baseball's least productive lineups.

His outing was notable for the consistent traffic on the bases. He gave up seven hits, walked two batters and hit another, yet avoided any run-scoring landmines, with the defense operating as a safety net. Eric Hosmer powered the offense with four RBI.

"That was what you call an A.A.G.G," manager Ned Yost said. "All-around good game."

A day ago, the team (16-17) arrived at Petco Park careening through a five-game losing streak. Fan unrest back home fomented. A pair of West Coast wins, even over a lowly opponent like San Diego, should ease the tension somewhat, even after a 12-inning loss on Monday that Hosmer called "heartbreaking."

"To come back and save the series and win the series like that, it says a lot about this team," he said.

The players departed for Seattle, where more robust competition awaits. The Mariners are on a five-day winning streak. A four-game series begins tonight.

For the Royals, the timing feels apt. Baffled on back-to-back nights by the soft-tossing duo of Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin, the lineup harassed top Padres starter Andrew Cashner into submission. He lasted only four innings, ambushed by a trio of runs in a 43-pitch first inning.

"I think we're starting getting to get our stride a little bit," Yost said.

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