The Tampa Bay Devil Rays began their six-game road trip in familiar fashion — with a loss.
They’ll try to avoid dropping their eighth straight road series when they continue a three-game weekend set with the Baltimore Orioles (57-71) on Saturday at Camden Yards.
The Devil Rays (52-77) lost 4-0 to the Orioles on Friday, dropping their eighth straight game on the road, where they are just 18-46 this season. Tampa Bay is 1-18 away from home since the beginning of July and has been outscored 103-54 during that span.
“I don’t really have a reason for it or anything like that,” said Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli, who went 2-for-4 in the defeat. “We just haven’t gotten it done on the road. We haven’t driven guys in. … I really can’t explain it.”
The Devil Rays went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Friday and stranded 10. They have lost five of their seven meetings in Baltimore this season.
James Shields (6-6, 4.74 ERA) tries to end Tampa Bay’s road skid and win his third straight start when he takes the mound.
The right-hander has allowed just four earned runs over 12 innings in his last two starts while walking two and striking out 14. He allowed three runs, eight hits and one walk while striking out seven over six innings of a 4-3 victory over Texas on Monday.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Shields said. “I think any pitcher will tell you, especially a starter, that you probably have your best stuff once a month. And how you deal with not having your best stuff determines whether or not you’re going to be a good pitcher.”
The 24-year-old rookie has been streaky this season. He had a four-game winning streak to start the year, before losing his next six decisions and finally rebounded with back-to-back wins.
Shields gave up five runs in five innings in a 6-5, 11-inning defeat to the Orioles on May 31, his only career appearance against them.
He will be opposed by Erik Bedard (12-9, 3.98), looks to avoid matching his season-high four-game losing streak. The left-hander won a career-best seven straight starts from June 16-July 23, posting a 1.29 ERA in that span and holding opponents to a .155 batting average.
He is 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA in his last five starts, however, including a 9-2 loss to Toronto on Sunday. Bedard allowed seven runs—five earned—and seven hits over five innings.
“I was trying to throw it on the corner, but I was missing a little bit,” Bedard said. “I fell behind, and that’s what hurt me. (My stuff) was fine— the usual. I just didn’t make pitches when I had to.”
Bedard is 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts versus the Devil Rays this season, and is 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 career starts against Tampa Bay.
Bedard has also been strong at Camden Yards this season, going 7-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts there.
Tampa Bay’s rotation took a hit when ace Scott Kazmir was placed on the 15-day DL Friday with tightness in his left shoulder. The left-hander had been scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale.