Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays stifled by ex-teammate James Shields, lose to Royals

ST. PETERSBURG — There was no loud ovation or pregame video tribute for James Shields this time.

The Royals ace wore a different shade of blue as the former Rays star took the mound from the other side of Tropicana Field.

Unfortunately for the Rays, Shields felt back at home and had the results to prove it, dominating his former club in Tampa Bay's 6-0 loss Monday in his first start at the Trop against his old team.

"We've seen that act before," manager Joe Maddon said. "Just the wrong uniform this time."

Shields, the Rays' all-time leader in strikeouts and wins, gave up three hits and a walk while striking out 10 in seven shutout innings against Tampa Bay (41-51). The only runner he allowed past first was Kevin Kiermaier, who doubled in the third inning but was stranded at third. The 32-year-old right-hander drew scattered boos from some of the announced crowd of 13,406 by hitting Evan Longoria with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh.

Other than that, Shields dominated, at one point retiring 10 consecutive batters — seven by strikeout. Shields said he felt at home once he took his old mound, reliving happy memories to end a stretch of 16 earned runs allowed in his past four starts.

"When I was warming up in the first inning, I definitely felt comfortable," Shields said. "Once the first pitch happened, it's game on."

And that was trouble for the Rays, who were shut out for an AL-most 12th time this year but first since June 18. Maddon attributed some of the struggles to grogginess after not getting home from an 11-game road trip until after 3 a.m.

"Just bad circumstances, I guess," Rays starter Jake Odorizzi said.

Odorizzi — one of the prospects the Rays acquired from Kansas City for Shields after the 2012 season — was the victim of that misfortune after a solid outing fueled by a slick slider. He struck out eight in his six innings and worked around a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second for his fourth consecutive start with at least 100 pitches.

"He kept getting better," Maddon said.

Odorizzi's problem came in the third, when he gave up three consecutive singles and a grounder that led to the Rays' 2-0 deficit. And that was too much of a hole against Shields, who left without fanfare after his second scoreless outing of the season.

Another former Ray, Wade Davis, struck out two in a perfect eighth inning to preserve the Rays' ninth loss in their past 11 games against Kansas City. The last Rays starter to beat the Royals was Shields himself.

"There's a lot of good memories here," Shields said. "The fans were great tonight to me, welcoming me back. That's always a good feeling, especially when you come out on top."

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]ay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

 
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