Coming off an extra-inning loss in their last contest, the Rays hope to give their hard-luck starter some much-needed support against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night at Safeco Field.
After winning a career-high 14 games a year ago, Shields (6-8, 3.75 ERA) has endured a frustrating season, thanks in part to his teammates’ struggles at the plate.
That was the case Sunday, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but ended up the loser after allowing two runs and two hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to Kansas City.
“What are you going to do?” said Shields, who’s 3.46 average runs of support is the lowest in the AL. “You move forward, that’s all I can do.”
The right-hander, who’s 0-3 with 4.50 ERA in eight starts since beating the New York Mets on June 20, is 1-2 with a 1.95 ERA in five against the Mariners. That loss came after he allowed one run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 1-0 loss at Seattle on April 23.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Rays (60-49), who are 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the wild-card standings. Seattle, which has won four of six overall and three of four this season against Tampa Bay, is 5 1/2 games out.
Bartlett is 7 for 18 with two homers and six RBIs in his last four games. Crawford is batting .474 against the Mariners this season.
Howell, meanwhile, looks to bounce back allowing his first homer to a left-handed batter in 70 plate appearances.
“It’s tough to swallow, but that’s what we’re good at —swallow and move on,” Howell said.
Tampa Bay could have catcher Gregg Zaun(notes) in the lineup after acquiring the veteran catcher in a trade with Baltimore on Friday. Known for his defense and the way he handles pitchers, Zaun hit .244 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 56 games for the Orioles this season.
Russell Branyan(notes) hit his career-high 25th homer and Ken Griffey Jr.(notes), added his 12th for the Mariners, who’ve won three in a row at home. Griffey’s 623rd career homer is his only hit in 11 at-bats against the Rays this season.
Seattle is uncertain if third baseman Adrian Beltre(notes) will be in the lineup after leaving Friday’s game after injuring his shoulder. He is hitting .316 in four games since coming off the disabled list a shoulder injury.
Making his first start since being traded from Pittsburgh last week, the right-hander allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, but did not receive a decision in a 4-2 loss at Texas on Sunday.
“I was pretty impressed, especially in his first outing in a Mariner uniform,” manager Don Wakamatsu said of Snell, who was 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 15 starts for the Pirates before he was demoted to the minors.