Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shields steps up for Rays in biggest game yet

James Shields delivers 61/3 solid innings to earn the win, giving up only a third-inning homer.

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

James Shields delivers 61/3 solid innings to earn the win, giving up only a third-inning homer.

ST. PETERSBURG — The stakes had never been higher.

The stage had never been bigger.

And when Rays right-hander James Shields took the mound to start the first playoff game in franchise history, even he — typically a picture of intensity to begin with — was more "amped up."

But what the Rays got in Thursday's American League Division Series opener against the White Sox was standard Shields: a gritty, resilient effort.

And, more important, a win.

"That's why we call him 'Big-game James,' " Rays reliever J.P. Howell said.

Shields bounced back from his one mistake — a three-run homer by Dewayne Wise in the third — to battle for 61/3 innings.

Shields "will occasionally give up a couple runs, like he did today, but he always settles in. Always," manager Joe Maddon said. "That just speaks to his intestinal fortitude, the fact he doesn't cave in. He's a tough guy."

Said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen: "Shields pitched a hell of a game."

Shields, who had never even attended a major-league playoff game, pitched like a veteran. The 26-year-old set the tone early, throwing six of his first seven pitches for strikes, putting together back-to-back 1-2-3 innings and drawing huge ovations from the sellout crowd of 35,041.

"I remember two years ago when we had about 10,000 fans here, we didn't get any standing ovations like that," Shields said. "So I'm going to take it all in. … This is a time in my life I need to enjoy every moment of it."

Shields gave up his only runs in the third. After giving up two singles, he got two outs before Wise stepped in. The 30-year-old outfielder, also making his postseason debut, hit a 2-and-2 pitch 368 feet for a three-run homer.

"I felt I made one bad pitch," Shields said. "Unfortunately, there were a couple runners on base and that's the way the game goes sometimes. I felt I did really well coming back late in the game."

Shields, whose knack for going late into games was one of the reasons Maddon gave him the Game 1 start, was hoping to get through the seventh. But after he gave up a single and a walk and hit A.J. Pierzynski with a cutter to load the bases, reliever Grant Balfour came in and thwarted the threat. Howell pitched a scoreless eighth and Dan Wheeler closed it out, but Howell said it was Shields who set the tone for the game, and maybe the series.

"The way he acts, his attitude is really contagious," Howell, 25, said. "I'm down there nervous, and I see him, I'm going, 'Phew, I can't be nervous.' He's not allowing himself, so I shouldn't. That's just the main thing, he sets the tone."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Shields steps up for Rays in biggest game yet 10/02/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 3, 2008 6:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane

    Bucs

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.
  2. Lightning opens day two of draft by taking Russian forwards

    Blogs

    After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the NHL Draft was headlined by a couple skilled Russian forwards.

  3. Kids still playing for all the marbles — literally

    Human Interest

    In this world of pompous athletes, overbearing coaches, money-grubbing owners and a win-at-all-costs mindset, it's easy to become jaded.

    Eli Murphy, right, leans in to give Sierra Ricci the traditional king and queen kiss at the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. Both of Allegheny County Pa., they won the girls and boys championship of the 94th annual National Marbles Tournament. [Associated Press]
  4. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.