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James Shields says Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff still doing a decent job

ARLINGTON, Texas — With lapses on the bases and in the field, manager Joe Maddon said the only thing the Rays did well Saturday was pitch.

And even that is a relative statement.

Starter James Shields lost his third straight game and was tagged for double-digit hits for the third time in his past six.

A dropoff in performance by the starters had to be expected after their remarkable early season run, but Shields said the current 4-8 skid has been a group effort — pitching, offense and defense.

"One through five I think we're still doing good," he said. "Maybe one guy will have a hiccup, but the other four guys are pitching well. So we've just got to keep doing our job on our side of the field, and they'll worry about what they're doing."

The key to a turnaround, he said, will be everyone doing his part and working together.

"We've got to start jelling; we've got to start feeling that rhythm. Everyone's got to start feeding off each other a little more," he said. "I think early in the season everyone was pumped up, everyone was feeding off each other. We have unbelievable starts as a starting staff. How could you not win games the way we were pitching early in the (season)?

"But now it's a grind. We've got to grind it out. We've got to grind out every single game. Something's got to change. We've got to put something together."

ON THE RUN: Evan Longoria was caught trying to score on a passed ball in the fourth with the score 4-1, as the ball rebounded hard off the brick backstop and right to C Max Ramirez. Longoria considered it bad luck, but Maddon said, "We just have to be more heads-up."

WADING IN: Even with top prospect RHP Jeremy Hellickson tearing up Triple A with an 8-2 record, 2.28 ERA and a 21-inning scoreless streak, Maddon said the Rays plan to give struggling rookie RHP Wade Davis time to sort out what are considered mechanical issues.

After another rough outing Friday, Davis fell to 5-5, 5.03 and showed a lack of command.

"I think it's an ongoing battle with him; it has been. It's just overall fastball command," Maddon said. "It all starts with his delivery; it truly does. His issues are not mental — it's not like he's overthinking it, it's not like he's afraid, it's none of that. His issues are mechanical.

"He's got to get to the point where he can repeat his delivery, and once he's able to repeat his delivery on a consistent basis, he'll be able to throw his fastball in and out or up and down when he wants to. That's what I see as the problem."

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: There's a report in El Nuevo Herald that the Rays have signed another Cuban free agent, 1B Jose Julio Ruiz, and to an interesting minor-league deal that sounds like rent to own — $20,000 a month for now, with the option of completing a four-year, $4 million deal in November. The Rays had no confirmation or comment on the report. … The two Cubans already signed, 1B/OF Leslie Anderson and LHP Sergio Espinosa, have been promoted from Class A Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery. Anderson hit .262 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 21 games, and Espinosa had a 1.17 ERA in three relief outings.

MISCELLANY: After 144 appearances at the Ballpark for the home team, RHP Joaquin Benoit came out of the visiting bullpen to make his 13th scoreless appearance of the season for the Rays. … Thursday will be the Rays' 2,000th overall game (they're 861-1,135). … Until Friday's seven-run fourth, the Rays were one of two AL teams (also Seattle) that hadn't allowed more than five in any inning.

James Shields says Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff still doing a decent job 06/05/10 [Last modified: Sunday, June 6, 2010 1:34pm]
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