Rays-Blue Jays Preview
Ben Zobrist and Johnny Damon led the Tampa Bay Rays to victory
in the middle game of their series against the Toronto Blue
The two could be poised for another big game in the finale.
Zobrist and Damon, who have regularly frustrated Blue Jays
scheduled starter Ricky Romero, look to lead the Rays back to .500
with a 10th victory in 14 games Sunday at Rogers Centre.
Zobrist broke a 2-all tie with a three-run homer in the sixth
inning for Tampa Bay (10-11) in Saturday’s 6-4 win over Toronto
(9-11). Damon drove in the other three runs and also homered for
the Rays, who have won nine of 12.
While Damon is in the midst of an impressive surge, batting .351
with 15 RBIs in his last nine games, Zobrist has been struggling
mightily. He entered Saturday’s game hitting .183 with seven
Facing Romero (1-2, 3.12 ERA) could help him get on track, as
he’s 6 for 12 with a pair of doubles lifetime against him.
Damon has also fared quite well versus Romero, going 4 for 7
(.571) with a homer, two doubles and six walks in his career.
Romero, who went 1-1 with a 5.89 ERA in three starts against the
Rays last season, is hoping to put a disappointing outing behind
After posting a 1.66 ERA in his first three starts while walking
just four over 21 2-3 innings, Romero allowed season highs of five
runs, eight hits and five walks in a season-low 4 1-3 innings in
Monday’s 9-1 loss to Boston.
Tampa Bay counters with James Shields (1-1, 3.07), who tossed a
four-hitter in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Chicago. The right-hander
struck out a season-high nine and walked one in his first complete
game since June 10, 2008, against the Los Angeles Angels.
“My delivery is really good right now,” Shields told the Rays’
official website. “I’m going to try to stay consistent. If I can
stay consistent with my delivery and mechanics, there’s less room
Shields has yielded two or fewer runs in three of his four
starts, with the only exception his lone outing away from Tropicana
Field. He gave up five runs in six innings in Chicago on April 8,
and has regularly struggled on the road.
Shields has a 5.04 career road ERA, compared to 3.53 in St.
It has been a similar story for Shields against the Blue Jays.
The six-year veteran is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA in nine career home
starts against them but 1-3 with a 5.87 ERA in six games in
Toronto. He had a 12.00 ERA in two outings at Rogers Centre last
Jose Bautista is batting .429 lifetime against Shields with two
home runs in 14 at-bats, and had his first two-homer game of the
Bautista, who homered in Friday’s 6-4, 11-inning series-opening
win, also walked and singled Saturday, and has reached base in 10
consecutive plate appearances. He is batting .542 with six homers –
all solo shots – with a double in seven home games this season.
“He’s very reminiscent of Barry Bonds in 2002,” Rays manager
Joe Maddon said. “He looks like that where every time he swings the
bat, it looks like it’s going to go over the wall. Just tremendous
plate discipline, very aggressive swing. It’s an understatement to
say that he’s locked in right now.”