Royals-Rays Preview

James Shields has the undesirable task of following David Price

in Tampa Bay’s rotation, but lately Shields has been doing a pretty

good impression of the Rays’ ace.

Shields looks to win a fourth straight decision Wednesday when

the Rays complete their series against the visiting Kansas City

Royals.

Wednesday’s starters have a tough act to follow after the

performances by Price and Luke Hochevar in the Royals’ 1-0,

10-inning victory Tuesday.

The two starters each went eight scoreless innings, combining

for 18 strikeouts while allowing four hits.

Eric Hosmer drove in the lone run with a two-out single that

scored Jeff Francoeur, who had advanced to second on an error by

Ben Zobrist.

“You don’t see that very often anymore, not that dominant on

both sides,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You knew there wasn’t

going to be much offense going into it. You were hoping you could

scratch out one run, maybe two, and somebody’s going to make a

mistake.”

Failing to help Price earn his 17th win, the Rays (68-55)

finished with two hits. The loss snapped Tampa Bay’s five-game

winning streak, during which it averaged 8.4 runs and hit .318.

“Anytime you play a game like that and you lose 1-0, of course

it’s no fun,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But overall we played a

really good game. We pitched great once again. You can’t be an oil

painting every night, man.”

Tampa Bay stayed four games back of New York in the AL East and

is a game up on Baltimore for the AL’s top wild-card spot.

While the Rays have been on a roll, the Royals have quietly won

14 of 21. Hosmer is hitting .409 over the last eight games, raising

his season average up to .237 – his highest since July 2.

Kansas City (55-67), which also was limited to one run in the

series opener, may not have much better luck getting the offense

going against Shields (11-7, 4.03 ERA).

Shields is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last four starts. He gave

up three runs on two homers over six innings of a 12-3 win over Los

Angeles on Friday.

The right-hander, who was the subject of trade rumors before the

deadline, was 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA in a seven-start stretch before

the deadline.

“The only difference is the numbers,” Shields said. “I mean,

I’ve been pitching the same way and I’ve taken the same approach in

every single game. So I don’t think it’s more relaxing now –

because we’re fighting for the wild card and fighting for the AL

East, so we have to win every game.”

Shields is 4-1 with a 1.63 ERA in five home starts against the

Royals.

Kansas City will counter with Luis Mendoza (7-8, 4.26), who is

looking to win his third straight start.

Mendoza is 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in four starts in August. He

allowed two runs and four hits while striking out six in seven

innings of a 4-2 win over Chicago on Friday.

“What he’s doing is attacking the strike zone with good natural

movement on his fastball, which is tough to center,” Yost said.

“He’s been very effective with his curveball and his changeup. You

add all that up, he gets quick outs, goes deep into the games.”

Mendoza will face the Rays for the first time.