Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

James Shields pitches a shutout as Tampa Bay Rays beat Oakland Athletics 8-0

RECOMMENDED READING


OAKLAND, Calif. — James Shields was relieved to still be with the Rays to make his Tuesday night start after the deadline passed for nonwaiver trades. Then he went out and showed opposing general managers what they may have missed out on.

Shields put his extended struggles behind him with a stellar three-hit complete-game outing reminiscent of his early season and 2011 performance to lead the Rays to an 8-0 win over the A's.

"That was as good as I've seen him in a long time," manager Joe Maddon said. "You look at Shields and his body of work to this point, you know it's in there and you know he's going to come back and pitch this way. It's fortunate for us that he's still here. He's going to pitch like that the rest of this season."

Combining Shields' welcome effort with a productive though not powerful offense that totaled more than six runs for just the second time since the All-Star break, the Rays (54-50) guaranteed a winning record on their nine-game cross-country challenge against other wild-card contenders, and with a chance today to take all three series.

Many of the Rays were just happy to see Shields in the clubhouse before his start given the recurring trade rumors, David Price and B.J. Upton joining him for a group hug. In his seventh career shutout and first complete game this season, Shields allowed only three singles — and no walks — while striking out 11 and throwing 98 pitches, giving the worn-out bullpen a day of rest. After the final out, Shields pointed to the pen in acknowledgement.

After going 5-0, 3.05 in his first six starts, Shields was 3-7, 5.16 in his next 15, and as his struggles went on it was hard not to think the ongoing trade talk was an issue.

"It really hadn't bothered me to be honest with you," Shields said. "But, yeah, it's good to be a Ray. I consider Tampa Bay my home. ... I'm glad to be here."

Maddon said Shields' performance was the product of the trade deadline passing and a chance in game plan orchestrated by pitching coach Jim Hickey to rely more on the fastball and not repeat his changeup and curveball too often.

"I think it was a combination of him relaxing knowing he was here and I think the game plan was outstanding,'' Maddon said. "It was pretty much textbook. I thought he was outstanding.''

Shields agreed it that it looked and felt similar to 2011, when he threw 11 completes games, including four shutouts. "It's been awhile since I felt like last year,'' he said. "I was in control of everything tonight.''

The Rays took a 2-0 lead in the third, combining three hits, two groundouts and, perhaps most importantly, catcher Jose Lobaton getting in an extended rundown, and added on from there.

Rightfielder Sam Fuld, continuing his hot injury-delayed start, had three hits to raise his average to .391 and centerfielder Upton, who was 0-for-7 in Monday's 15-inning marathon loss, had two, singling in the first run and scoring another.

The five runs they got off A's starter Tommy Milone were the most he allowed in a home game, and one fewer than his total for eight starts in the spacious Coliseum.

Lobaton led off the third with a double and went to third on Fuld's single to right. Desmond Jennings followed with a grounder to third and though Lobaton was tagged out, he kept the play going long enough that the Rays ended up in better position as Fuld came around to third and Jennings went to second.

It paid off when Upton singled to left for the first run and Ben Zobrist's grounder to second was soft enough for Jennings to score the second.

They extended the lead to 5-0 in the sixth, when they opened with three consecutive singles, by Upton, Zobrist and Jeff Keppinger, then followed with a sac fly by Carlos Pena and another RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.

Between the pitching, the baserunning and the overall play, Maddon had plenty to be pleased about.

"That was as clean a game as we've played in a long time,'' he said. "It was very clean.''

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

When the Rays acquired INF Matt Duffy from the Giants during the 2016 season, we also heard about the giant and somewhat famous cat he had, an up-to-27-pounder named Skeeter.Duffy announced over the weekend on Instagram that the family had to have Sk...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Updated: 8 hours ago
UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE, 8:11: RHP Jose Mujica was an additional addition to the roster, beyond the six previously reported. Mujica, 21, was 14-8, 3.04 ERA in 27 starts between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery.So among those left unprotected and potentially ...
Published: 11/20/17
Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Aubrey Huff isn't going to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.But at least the former Devil Rays standout has the satisfaction of making the cut to get onto the ballot, one of 19 first-timers up for election this year.Other newcomers with Rays ties are O...
Published: 11/20/17
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17