Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' James Shields pitches seven-plus innings for first time in a month

ST. PETERSBURG — James Shields had not lasted seven innings in a start in nearly a month and was determined to go deeper Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

The right-hander did just that with a stellar 7⅓-inning outing, allowing two earned runs and striking out 10. He got a no-decision in the Rays' 5-4, 11-inning win but said it was up there with his best starts of the year.

"I thought James Shields was really, really good," manager Joe Maddon said. "He deserved a better fate than that."

Shields (6-2) completed seven innings for the first time since April 21 against the Twins. Maddon said Shields (110 pitches) could have lasted longer had it not been for a couple of defensive mistakes that "cost him probably at least 10-15 pitches."

Shields said his changeup was his best pitch, and he located it as well as he can, but he set everything up with his fastball, issuing just one walk.

"I felt really good," he said. "It's nice to go out there and go deep in the game and do my part."

BACK UP: RHP Joel Peralta gave up the tying two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the eighth, just the Rays' third blown save of the season. But RHPs Fernando Rodney and LHP Jake McGee backed him up, combining for three scoreless innings. Rodney allowed one hit over two innings, and McGee struck out two of the three hitters he faced to pick up the win. "I thought they were fantastic," Maddon said.

SUTTON'S PLACE: Newly acquired INF Drew Sutton said he knew when he saw Carlos Peña hitting leadoff Tuesday how creative Maddon would be with the lineup. But he was still surprised Wednesday when he saw his own name in the cleanup spot, the first time he has ever hit 3, 4 or 5.

But Sutton came through, going 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the first.

"It went as good as I could have expected it to go," he said. "And it makes Joe look really smart, doesn't it? I showed up with the lineup and was like, 'Are we trying to win today?' You'd think that me and Peña would be switched. But hey, it worked."

GOOD SAM: OF Sam Fuld said Tuesday's checkup in Cleveland on his surgically repaired right wrist went well. He could start swinging a bat in early to mid June and might be a little ahead of his projected mid August return. "It might be a little bit sooner now," he said. "Not surprisingly, the biggest test is going to come when I actually start hitting. It's easy for me to set a target date now, but I haven't touched a bat yet."

JENNINGS UPDATE: OF Desmond Jennings (left knee sprain) acknowledged he won't be ready to rejoin the team when eligible Sunday, but it shouldn't be far off and he expects to head out soon for a short minor-league rehab. Jennings will wear a brace on his left knee when he returns and expects to be "close" — though not quite back — to his previous speedy form. "From what I've heard it's probably going to linger a little bit, but it should be all right," he said.

MISCELLANY: Seems unlikely that OF/DH Hideki Matsui, hitting .133 (4-for-30) with Triple-A Durham, which was idle Wednesday, will be called up to start the weekend series in Boston. … 1B/OF Brandon Allen (quad strain) was to play for advanced Class A Charlotte on Wednesday and is eligible to be reinstated Friday.

CLOSING TIME: RHP Kyle Farnsworth threw off a mound for the first time since going on the disabled list in April with a right elbow strain. Though it wasn't from the full distance — the catcher was positioned in front of the plate — Farnsworth felt good after throwing 20 fastballs: "Everything went well. It felt free and easy." He said he'll throw his first bullpen session Saturday.

MINOR MATTERS: RHP Alex Colome (oblique) will be activated by Montgomery on Saturday; he'd been placed on the DL after two starts for the Biscuits this season.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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