James Shields makes what could be his last start with the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon when they go for a sweep in the finale of their three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Shields' name has come up in trade rumors recently and has been linked to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim among others. However, he's still property of the Rays and Thursday will try for his first win in four starts.
The righty has enjoyed a far different season from last year when he was an AL Cy Young Award candidate. Shields, who was a 16-game winner with 11 complete games in 2011, is 8-6 on the year with a 4.39 ERA. He didn't get a decision last Friday versus Seattle and allowed three runs and four hits and struck out 10 in 7 2/3 innings.
"I felt really good, felt really good in my delivery, my location for the most part," Shields said. "I felt I pitched pretty well. Unfortunately, it went 14 innings, but we ended up getting the win, so that's good."
Shields beat the O's earlier in the year and is 9-5 lifetime against them with a 3.54 ERA in 22 starts.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with righty Chris Tillman, who is 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA. Tillman bounced back from a horrific showing in Minnesota two starts ago to beat the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, holding them to a run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He had surrendered seven runs (1 earned) in just two-thirds of an inning against the Twins.
Tillman is 0-2 in five starts vs. the Rays with a 5.06 ERA.
Tampa moved into a second-place tie with the O's in the AL East on Wednesday, as David Price pitched seven innings to record his major league-leading 14th win and Ryan Roberts homered in a 10-1 shellacking.
Desmond Jennings hit the first pitch of the game over the wall in left and Jose Lobaton, who had three hits and four RBI, added a three-run shot in the fifth for his first major league round-tripper.
Roberts, who was acquired Tuesday night from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league second baseman Tyler Bortnick, smacked a two-run blast in the third inning.
Price (14-4) allowed seven hits and a run while fanning 10 without issuing a walk. The lefty moved to 6-0 over his last seven starts and hasn't lost since June 13 against the Mets.
"It starts with the pitching all the time. It's nice when your pitcher is able to keep it going for you," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought David was really sharp tonight."
The Orioles, who have lost their last three, have allowed 13 runs in the first two games of the series, while scoring just two.