Braves-Rays Preview

The Tampa Bay Rays’ James Shields dominated opponents during

interleague play last season.

The same can’t be said for Tommy Hanson, who hasn’t experienced

much recent success against AL clubs.

With a chance to become the majors’ first seven-game winner,

Shields takes the hill opposite Hanson on Friday night when the

Rays open a three-game set with the NL East-leading Atlanta


Shields, who enjoyed a career year in 2011 by going 16-12 with a

2.82 ERA, posted especially impressive numbers over four starts

against the NL. The All-Star right-hander opened interleague play

with three complete game victories before dropping to 3-1 with a

1.32 ERA following somewhat of a rocky display during a 4-3 loss to

Cincinnati on June 29. When all was said and done, Shields struck

out 42 and walked just four over 34 innings while opponents hit

just .145 against him.

In his only career appearance against Atlanta (24-15), Shields

gave up three runs over six frames during a 3-1 road loss June 17,

2010. Shields has had his way with Dan Uggla, limiting him to just

three hits in 15 at-bats in their matchups.

“We’ve faced a lot of those guys before. I think I’m the only

one on the staff who faced the National League East in the past,”

Shields told the team’s official website. “They’re a good team.

They’re a good squad. We can’t take them lightly. We have to keep

playing our game.”

Though his ERA went up to 3.52, Shields improved to 6-1 this

season after giving up six runs – four earned – over 6 1-3 innings

of Sunday’s 9-8 win at Baltimore. Shields is surely looking forward

to getting back home, where he’s gone 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA over 10

starts – all Rays wins – dating to last year.

Hanson (4-3, 3.43), meanwhile, improved to 3-1 over his last

five outings after striking out a season-high nine over five

innings of one-run ball during Sunday’s 7-4 victory at St.


“I felt good with everything and for the most part did a good

job of locating,” he said.

Hanson, though, could find it difficult to build on last

weekend’s effort given his recent struggles in interleague play.

Since compiling a 0.75 ERA in winning his first four career starts

against the AL, the right-hander has gone 1-2 with a 9.78 ERA over

his last four.

Hanson scattered three hits over seven shutout innings of a 6-2

victory over Tampa Bay (24-15) on June 16, 2010.

Winners of nine of 13, the Braves defeated Miami 7-0 on Thursday

behind Brandon Beachy’s five-hitter. Beachy struck out six and

walked zero in throwing his first career shutout.

Atlanta won nine straight in interleague play June 19-July 2

before falling 5-4 to the Orioles on July 3. The Braves have

outscored Tampa Bay 113-77 in taking 15 of 21 all-time meetings

between the teams.

Coming off a two-game split with Boston, Tampa Bay’s four-game

winning streak was snapped Thursday with a 5-3 defeat. Matt Moore

dropped to 1-4 on the season while Luke Scott, Carlos Pena, Elliot

Johnson and Chris Gimenez – the club’s 3-5-7-8 hitters, went a

combined 0 for 15.

Since winning 13 of their first 14 games on their own field, the

Rays have dropped three of four at home thanks in part to going 5

for 34 (.147) with runners in scoring position.