Braves to face Rays’ dominant Shields
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.
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 Braves.
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
“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.
(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. Louis.
“I felt good with everything and for the most part did a good job of locating,” he said.
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.
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