Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

James Shields lifts Tampa Bay Rays past New York Yankees 3-0

ST. PETERSBURG — James Shields has said both he and fellow starting pitcher Matt Garza must step up during the Rays' playoff push.

Sunday afternoon, Shields delivered.

Though he couldn't top Garza's no-hitter of a week ago, he picked the perfect time for one of the best performances of his career, living up to his "Big Game James" nickname.

With the Rays facing the first-place Yankees and ace CC Sabathia while minus two key regulars, Shields shut down the majors' top-scoring team in a 3-0 win in front of another Tropicana Field sellout crowd of 36,973.

"That was the best I've ever seen Shields," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Ever."

Shields threw 71/3 innings, striking out 11 (including six straight) to help the Rays take two out of three from the Yankees in a series that had a playoff atmosphere. In doing so, the Rays (65-39) cut New York's lead in the American League East to one game.

"It was a very important game for us to win," Shields said. "For me, especially the way I've been struggling the first half of the year; and the last four or five starts, I've felt really good. To be able to continue that and show that is tremendous."

Shields' performance was a case of putting it all together.

There was better control of his emotions and his fastball, which catcher Kelly Shoppach said Shields located better than he had all year.

There was mechanics as Shields has been working during the past five starts on finding the right rhythm. Maddon pointed out he maintained his delivery for all 116 pitches.

And there was his changeup, which Maddon said was "ferocious" and reminiscent of when Shields entered the majors in 2006.

"All he threw was changeups," Yankees rightfielder Nick Swisher said. "We're going to have to remember that for next time."

Shields' biggest strikeout came in the seventh, when Alex Rodriguez pinch hit with two outs and one on. Still stuck on career homer No. 599, Rodriguez worked a full count. With camera lights flashing and the sellout crowd on its feet, Shields (10-9) painted the inside corner with a fastball for a called strike, pumping his fist on his way to the dugout.

"It was definitely a big moment in the game," Shields said. "I threw him some really good pitches. He worked the count, and I was thinking to myself, 'Why can't you just ground out already?' But I ended up spotting a fastball right on the black."

The Rays lineup was without Ben Zobrist (back stiffness) and Carlos Peña (sore right foot). But with the words "adapt" and "adjust" written on the lineup card posted in the clubhouse, the Rays did just that.

Sean Rodriguez, making his first big-league start at first, played solid defensively. And Willy Aybar hit a ground-rule double in the second and scored the first run.

"Our bench guys are just as good as anybody's starters around the league," Shields said.

"These guys can start on any team."

Chad Qualls, acquired Saturday, came through in an eventful debut, falling behind 3-and-0 to Lance Berkman — his teammate while with Houston from 2004-07 — before getting him to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Rafael Soriano finished it with his AL-leading 30th save, and the Yankees left saying they expect the Rays to give them a fight for the AL East title until the end.

"I think experience helps us out. We kind of know what to expect now," Shields said. "In '08, we didn't know what to expect. We were kind of rookies at that.We're not going to say, 'Oh we're playing the Yankees or we're playing Boston.' We're trying to win each game.

"Our main focus is to win the American League East. And to be able to take two out of three from these guys is huge for us."

James Shields lifts Tampa Bay Rays past New York Yankees 3-0 08/01/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 1, 2010 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure


    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Of the 35 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 400 passes since 2015, Jameis Winston ranks 30th in completion percentage. He is third, however, in yards per completion. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  2. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

  3. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois


    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  4. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?


    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.