Getting back into the win column would likely be a far more enjoyable experience for the right-hander.
Shields goes for his first victory in more than three weeks Saturday when the Rays and division-leading Boston Red Sox continue this AL East matchup at Tropicana Field.
Shields (8-7, 2.33 ERA) did not play Tuesday in the 5-1 loss to the NL All-Stars after he started the Rays’ final game before the break - Sunday’s 1-0 road loss to the New York Yankees - but he felt like it was a worthwhile trip to Phoenix.
“Just to be able to be among all the best players in the big leagues for the first half of this year, it was a good experience for me,” Shields told the Rays’ official website.
While he would like to experience a victory after losing his last three starts before the break, Shields has one of the lowest home run-support averages in the majors at 1.92.
Tampa Bay (50-41) is among the worst in baseball with 3.4 runs per game at home, but the club has scored 22 times while winning a season high-tying three straight at Tropicana Field. The Rays had their best offensive output of the season at home Friday, winning 9-6 to snap Boston’s six-game winning streak.
Tampa Bay, which hosts the second-place Yankees for four games following this three-game set, is five back of the Red Sox (55-36).
“It’s a good win for us, but we definitely have to keep putting runs on the board against a team like this,” Ben Zobrist(notes) said Friday after hitting his franchise-record fifth career grand slam and driving in five.
The veteran right-hander had a rough first half, but he showed some positive signs by striking out seven and throwing 6 2-3 innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 win over Baltimore on July 9.
Lackey, who went 2 1-3 innings five days earlier to lose his third consecutive start, is 4-3 with a 5.67 ERA since missing nearly a month with a right elbow strain.
“My arm’s feeling better, feeling stronger,” Lackey told the Red Sox’ official website. “Honestly guys, there’s a fine line between good and bad.”
Lackey has been very good in 16 starts against Tampa Bay, going 11-4 with a 3.75 ERA.
Shields is just 6-9 with a 4.71 ERA in 17 starts against Boston, but he ended the Red Sox’s season-high nine-game winning streak with a five-hitter in a 4-0 home victory June 14.
Shields has not fared well against Dustin Pedroia(notes), who is 13 for 34 with two doubles and two homers in that matchup. Boston’s second baseman is batting .377 (20 for 53) with six homers - five coming in the last seven contests - and 11 RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak.
David Ortiz(notes), 12 for 36 with three homers off Shields, could be in the lineup after appealing a four-game suspension stemming from his involvement in a benches-clearing brawl against Baltimore on July 8.