After a pair of mediocre starts for the Seattle Mariners, the third time was the charm for Tullahoma native Justus Sheffield on Monday.
At Wrigley Field in Chicago, Sheffield got the Labor Day start for the Mariners against the Cubs. The left-hander made the most of his opportunity, tossing five innings of shutout baseball, surrendering just five hits and a pair of walks, while striking out seven batters.
Unfortunately, the 2014 Tullahoma High School graduate didn’t receive the win. Chicago plated five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, using that to notch the 5-1 victory.
This season has been one of ups and downs for Sheffield. After starting the season at the triple-A level in Tacoma, he would go on to pitch once for the Mariners, coming out of the bullpen on April 26 against the Texas Rangers. However, in that outing, Sheffield was a little erratic for the Mariners, surrendering a pair of runs, including a homerun and four walks.
That performance carried over when he was recalled to triple-A, as Sheffield was never able to find his groove. After being demoted to double-A, Sheffield regrouped and was able to put up stellar numbers for the Arkansas Travelers.
That effort allowed Sheffield to be called up straight to the majors, rejoining the Mariners on Aug. 23 in a home game against Toronto. In his first major-league start, Sheffield surrendered three runs, two of which came in the first inning, and allowed seven hits and three walks, while striking out three batters. After pitching four innings, he received the no-decision in that game, as the Mariners battled back for the victory.
This past offseason, Sheffield was dealt to Seattle from the New York Yankees in a trade for pitcher James Paxton. As fate would have it, Sheffield’s second start of his career, he not only went up against the Yankees but was opposing Paxton.
In that start, Sheffield took the loss, lasting 4.1 innings. Sheffield allowed five runs, on six hits, while striking out five batters as New York got the long ball going.
On Monday against the Cubs, Sheffield allowed base runners, but each time, he was able to get out of those jams. When Sheffield exited the game at Wrigley Field, the Mariners led 1-0.
“With a tight game like that, I just wanted to pitch as deep as I could and keep the game as close as possible,” Sheffield told reporters following Monday’s game. “It’s just one of those things where the runners got on, and you know, just kind of locking them back in.”
Walks caught up with Seattle in the bottom of the seventh inning, though, as Chicago was able to plate five runs in the frame, using that to garner the victory.
Sheffield’s next start will be against another playoff-bound team, when he goes up against the Houston Astros on Saturday. That game will take place in Houston, and Sheffield will be opposing Justin Verlander, who tossed a no-hitter on Sunday in Toronto. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m.