Even though the Red Sox have some good pitching names, the past series with them didn’t offer the kind of pitching we can see from the Rays, as evidenced by their #4 starter Matt Moore pitching a heck of a game yesterday against a quality Detroit lineup. It’s no offense to Josh Beckett, who clearly isn’t himself right now, it’s a compliment to the Rays and the depth of pitching they have established. As much a treat Tuesday’s match up of Rick Porcello and Matt Moore was, today’s game could be even better with Justin Verlander squaring off against James Shields.
We all know of course that Verlander is the reigning Cy Young and MVP winner from 2011, and in his first start against Boston this season, he looked like he wanted to defend both titles. Shields on the other hand got off to a rough start opening day against the Yankees giving up 6 runs in 5 innings, but I expect that he will bounce back rather nicely tomorrow. After all, Shields himself had a fantastic 2011, finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting, and 16th in the MVP voting. The most impressive thing about Shields is that he is an absolute bulldog. Shields completed 11 games last season, throwing 4 shutouts, topping the league in both categories.
Shields comes into today’s game with a 4-0 record against Detroit, and in 3 career starts at Comerica, he is 2-0 with an ERA of 3.00, so there is some history of success against the Tigers. However, this is a very different looking lineup right now with Austin Jackson at the top acting as a catalyst, and Prince Fielder providing ample protection for Miguel Cabrera.
Verlander likes pitching against the Rays as well, compiling a 6-1 career record against the Rays with an ERA of 3.60. Strangely enough though, the weak hitting Rays were one of the more successful teams against Verlander during his tremendous 2011 season. Verlander started 2 games against the Rays last season, going 1-0, but posting an ERA of 4.85, which was the highest against any team Verlander faced last season.
Still, I suspect that on a cold day in April, and Verlander looking locked in already, runs are going to be hard to come by for the Rays. Probably the Tigers too.
If you like pitching, today’s game should be another gem.