By Bradley Walker, 1010 Sports

ARLINGTON (CBS) If James Shields’ performance Wednesday night doesn’t place him among the top pitchers in the American League, who knows what will.

The hard-throwing righty posted eight shutout innings in a 4-1 win against the Texas Rangers with a crowd of 28,034 on hand at Rangers Ballpark.

“Complete Game” James was an inning away from throwing his 11th complete game last night, but his pitch count through eight was high, which prompted Joe Maddon to bring on Kyle Farnsworth for the ninth inning save.

Shields leads the league in complete games thrown, and there is no doubt that if he had more wins this season he would be right there in the Cy Young conversation with Justin Verlander.

As a fan of the game, it’s great to have confidence in a pitcher every time he steps on the rubber, and I’m sure many Rays fans feel this way about Shields.

Tampa Bay is now 13 games above .500 and 7 1/2 games behind New York in the AL Wild Card race. Shields made the headlines for his impressive outing, but the Rays’ bats provided the support he needed to get the win.

The Rays rallied in the second and put up some runs on an RBI single by John Jaso and a bases loaded walk to Desmond Jennings. They tacked on another run in the third when Matt Joyce singled up the middle to drive in Evan Longoria.

Shields took care of the rest and went on to strike out seven, which brought him to a milestone of 1,000 strikeouts in his young career.

This kid is something special, and his leadership will be needed to propel this team to success in September.

The three-game series wraps up tonight in Arlington, with the first pitch thrown at 8:05 PM ET.