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Rays Report

Tampa Bay Rays: James Shields setting some complete-game standards; Joe Maddon suggests final step for breaking a slump

Rays at Astros

When/where: 2:05 today; Minute Maid Park, Houston

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

Starting pitchers

RAYS

RH Jeff Niemann (2-4, 4.82)

ASTROS

LH J.A. Happ (3-9, 5.33)

Watch for …

Standing tall: Niemann was sharp Monday in his return from the DL, pitching six shutout innings. The Houston native pitched at home last season, holding the Astros to two runs over seven innings.

Happenstance: Happ has lost a career-high five straight and nine overall, despite allowing three or fewer earned runs in eight of his past 11 starts. The former Phillie has never faced the Rays.

Key matchups

Rays vs. Happ

Johnny Damon 0-for-3

Sam Fuld 1-for-3

Casey Kotchman 3-for-7, HR

Astros vs. Niemann

Clint Barmes 2-for-3

Michael Bourn 0-for-3

Carlos Lee 1-for-3

On deck

Monday: vs. Reds, 7:10, Sun Sports. Rays — Jeremy Hellickson (7-6, 3.09); Reds — Johnny Cueto (5-2, 1.63)

Tuesday: vs. Reds, 7:10, Sun Sports. Rays — David Price (8-6, 3.51); Reds — Mike Leake (6-4, 4.19)

Wednesday: vs. Reds, 12:10, Sun Sports. Rays — James Shields (8-4, 2.29); Reds — Edinson Volquez (4-3, 5.61)

Thursday: Off

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Complete Game James notes of the day

With his sixth complete-game win Friday, RHP James Shields:

• Is the first with six CG-wins through 76 team games since Toronto's Pat Hentgen in 1997, and the second in the 2000s with six, win or lose, joining Roy Halladay.

• Has more than any AL team (and twice as many as the Red Sox and Yankees combined), and more than the Rays have had in any season but one (7 in 2000).

• Is the fifth active to win three in a row, joining Halladay, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb.

Slump buster of the day

Like other slumping hitters, 3B Evan Longoria tried a new haircut. Then he changed equipment, in his case going without batting gloves. So what would a player try next?

"It's got to be underwear," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's all different styles, different ways of getting comfortable for the game."

Tampa Bay Rays: James Shields setting some complete-game standards; Joe Maddon suggests final step for breaking a slump 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 10:51pm]
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