SEATTLE — There's little reason to mess with perfection, so RHP James Shields will happily take what he did in his last start when he takes the mound tonight.
Well, the seven no-hit innings, anyway.
The frustrating loss — in which he allowed a couple of hits, the defense collapsed and the offense did nothing — he can do without.
It has been that kind of season for Shields, who has a 3.75 ERA that ranks 16th in the American League but a 6-8 record. He is suffering through an eight-start winless streak since beating the Mets on June 20. Worse, the Rays are 10-13 in his starts.
"It's tough," Shields said. "It's not really a matter of wins and losses. It's a matter of how many times my team wins when I pitch, and we've got more losses than wins."
Shields made a slight mechanical adjustment before his last start that led to greater command of his fastball (and thus less reliance on his changeup), and he worked on that a lot during Wednesday's bullpen session.
Plus, he has pitched well against Seattle, with a 1.95 ERA (but a 1-2 record) over five starts.
"I'm definitely going in with a lot of confidence right now," he said.
AKI RISING: 2B Akinori Iwamura went through a workout before Friday's game, an encouraging sign that his return from left-knee surgery in June could come sooner than Sept. 1.
He will stay with the Rays on the West Coast trip and could be ready for a rehabilitation assignment by the end of next week.
"He has not complained of anything," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's just, all's good. Everything's good."
NEW ARM: The Rays are expected to finalize a deal today to acquire LHP R.J. Swindle from the Brewers through a waiver claim and option him to Triple-A Durham. Swindle, 26, is a soft-tosser who has had success at Triple-A Nashville (3-1, 1.03 ERA in 422/3 innings over 31 games) but hasn't done well in the big leagues, posting a 16.20 ERA by allowing 12 runs on 12 hits (including three homers) in 62/3 innings. He has spent most of his career in the Phillies organization.
The deal was reported in Milwaukee on Friday (as the Brewers called up former Ray Jesus Colome). The official announcement was held off so the Rays could create a spot on the 40-man roster.
MISCELLANY: Jeff Niemann became the 401st pitcher to allow a homer to Ken Griffey Jr. ... The Mariners logged their ninth walkoff win of the season. ... Princeton OF Cody Rogers was named the top minor-league player for July and Hudson Valley OF Alexander Colome the top pitcher. Rogers hit .353 with 18 RBIs in 21 games. Colome was 2-0, 1.15 over six starts. … OF Fernando Perez, recovering from his left-wrist injury in the spring, went 0-for-3 in his first rehab game for the Gulf Coast League Rays.