Right-hander James Shields can remain unbeaten in his fourth start of the year tonight when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Minnesota Twins in game two of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
A second-place finisher in the voting for the American League's Cy Young Award last season, Shields won 16 games, pitched a career-high 249 1/3 innings and completed a league-best 11 games for the Rays en route to a third playoff appearance in four seasons.
He was 14-8 for Tampa Bay in its league championship-winning season in 2008 and won 13 times in a follow-up playoff run in 2010.
In three starts thus far in 2012, Shields has logged 21 1/3 innings, allowed 19 hits and eight runs while beating Detroit and Boston and getting a no- decision against New York. The Rays have won all three starts, outscoring foes 12-8.
Shields is 3-2 in nine lifetime starts against Minnesota.
He's opposed by 36-year-old veteran Carl Pavano, who makes the 295th appearance of a big-league career that began with the Montreal Expos in 1998.
The Connecticut native has pitched for the Expos, Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Cleveland and Minnesota, with his best seasons coming in 2004 - when he was 18-8 for the Marlins - and 2010, when he was 17-11 for the Twins.
Pavano has split two decisions in three starts to open this season while allowing 19 hits and 12 runs in 20 2/3 innings with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
He's 5-4 in 13 career starts against Tampa Bay with a 3.47 ERA.
In Friday's opener, Josh Willingham smacked the go-ahead three-run double in the seventh inning, lifting the Twins to a 5-4 win.
Joe Mauer added a pair of RBI singles for the Twins, who are 3-3 over their last six contests following a three-game losing streak.
Matt Maloney (1-0) relieved starter Liam Hendricks, who gave up four runs on five hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, in the sixth and tossed a scoreless frame in relief to get the win. Matt Capps earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Evan Longoria had a two-run home run, while Matt Joyce added a solo shot for the Rays, who had their eight-game home regular-season winning streak snapped.
Matt Moore allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings.
The Rays went 7-3 versus the Twins last season.