When we last saw the Rays, it was in the rear view mirror following a three-game sweep in which the Orioles left Tropicana Field a wretched, desolate hulk. Players packed fragments of the demolished catwalks into their luggage and debris from the exploded roof peppered the surrounding St. Petersburg suburbs. Note: the preceding sentence was not intended to be a factual statement. Besides, the Trop's a wretched, desolate hulk no matter who wins on a given night!
It was in the final game of that series where tonight's starter, Zach Britton, made his major league debut, holding the Rays offense to one run over six innings. The Rays weren't hitting much in that first series, and they aren't hitting much now, with a team OBP of .303. One big difference is that Evan Longoria is back in action for them. Longo's only been back for a few games and hasn't quite found his stroke yet, so hopefully that doesn't start tonight. Just today, the Rays called up some dude named Brandon Guyer, whose face kind of freaks me out a lot. He is in the starting lineup tonight. I may succumb to the temptation to refer to him as Guy LaDouche at some point.
The O's hitters will be up against James Shields, who pitched fairly well in the second game of the season. In fact, were it not for the Brian Roberts three-run home run off Jake McGee, which scored two runners charged to Shields, the O's would have been shut out. McGee is no longer on the roster, so we can't count on him again.
Shields is having himself a heck of a season, having already thrown two complete games, including a four-hit shutout against Toronto, and only once has he gone fewer than seven innings. Through all of this he has a 2.14 ERA and lest we think it's all a mirage, even a metric like Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) gives him a 2.83. I go back and forth on whether I like FIP. For what it's worth to you, Chris Tillman's FIP is 3.50. So I don't think I like FIP today.
Nick Markakis bats .302/.400/.482 off Shields over 65 career PA, including two home runs, so hopefully that can help sustain his slog up and away from the Mendoza Line. We also have Vladimir Guerrero slugging .579 over 38 PA, Luke Scott slugging .559 over 37 PA, and Adam Jones slugging .750 over 28 PA. Enjoy that sub-3.00 ERA while it lasts, Shields.