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Rays Vs. Braves: Tampa Bay Begins Interleague Play Against Atlanta

The Tampa Bay Rays begin interleague play against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. Can James Shields become the first Major League pitcher to earn seven wins this season?

May 8, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA;  Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields (33) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
May 8, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields (33) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

As interleague play begins on Friday in the major league, the Tampa Bay Rays get their first taste of facing the likes of the NL East as they begin a three game series with the Atlanta Braves.

Rays pitcher James Shields has an opportunity to be the first seven-win pitcher in baseball this season as he starts on Friday. Last year in interleague play, Shields pitched three complete game victories before dropping a game against Cincinnati on June 29. In his last start against the Baltimore Orioles, Shields went six and two-thirds innings but gave up six runs, four earned in a victory.

The Braves counter with pitcher Tommy Hanson, who has had it rough against the American League in his last four interleague starts. In those last four starts, Hanson is 1-2 with a 9.78 ERA. However, his recent performances belie that statistic as in his last start against the St. Louis Cardinals Hanson went five innings and allowed only one run while striking out a season high nine batters.

The game is set for a 7:10 p.m. start time from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Television coverage will be provided by Sunshine Sports with radio coverage on WDAE 620 AM and WGES 680 AM.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.