Rays Vs. Marlins: James Shields Dominates Marlins As Rays Win, 4-0

Josh Johnson was placed on the disabled list yesterday, so the Marlins have called up Jay Buente for the start today. After losing the first two games of the series, the Rays have to be mighty thankful about that.

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James Shields Dominates Marlins As Rays Win 4-0

I know we said earlier this season that Shields pitched the best game of his career, but we need to revise that already: yesterday’s game was the best start of his career. It was better than his earlier start when he struck out 12 batters, and it was more impressive than any his other complete games this season. Shields pitched like an ace yesterday, and I couldn’t be more happy.

Here’s his final line: 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 13 K. Shields has never struck out that many batters before in one game, and his 23 swinging strikes (18%) were also a career high. It was also his highest Game Score of his career (take that for what it’s worth), and the highest Game Score by any pitcher so far this season. I try not to put undo stress on Game Score as a stat, but it at least shows that Shields’ start has a legitimate case to be named the best start of the season in the majors so far.

As I didn’t see the game I can’t speak to Shields’ pitch sequencing or pitch movement, but from looking at his game plots, he was locating his pitches exceptionally well and getting lots of swinging strikes on changeups low in the zone. Pitch location has always been Shields’ downfall, so if he can keep locating his pitches like this, he’ll go far this season.

Big Game James is back with a vengeance this year. He’s gone at least seven innings in every start this season except one (his second of the season) and this was his third complete game and second shutout of the year, matching his career highs in both categories.

Game Notes:

- Casey Kotchman had a great offensive day and helped lead the Rays by going 2-3 with a triple and a walk. And from all reports, he also looked really good at the plate: he hit hard line drives and had an impressive showing.

- Outside of Kotch, the only other player to get two hits was Longoria, who went 2-4 with a walk and a double. It’ll take more than one day to convince me that he’s broken out of his slump, but hey, it’s certainly something at least.


Rays Vs. Marlins: Josh Johnson Injured, James Shields To Face Jay Buente

The Florida Marlins placed pitcher Josh Johnson on the disabled list yesterday with shoulder issues, much to the relief of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have had some offensive struggles recently, only scoring three runs in each of the first two games of this series, and losing both games this weekend. They're in danger of being swept out of Miami and heading north to Detroit in the midst of a bad losing skid and in danger of falling into third place in the AL East.

Without Josh Johnson starting, though, the Rays seem to have a fighting chance. Starting for the Rays today is James Shields (3.19 FIP), who has pitched even better than David Price so far this year: he's struck out more batters, gotten more groundballs, has generated more swinging strikes, has lasted longer into games, and has a much lower ERA. Considering the Rays' recent offensive production, he'll have to do better than Price did yesterday (6.2 IP, 5 ER) in order to get a win.

To face Shields, the Marlins have called up minor leaguer Jay Buente. Buente is a 27 year old right-handed pitcher that has spent most of his career thus far in the minor leagues. He pitched a few innings in the Marlins' bullpen last season, but this will be his first start at the major league level. He's works a split-fingered fastball and gets a large amount of groundballs, and you can find a full scouting report on him over at The Process Report.

Today's game will start at 1:10 PM.

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