|Monday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Daniel Bard vs. James Shields||04.16.12 at 6:33 am ET|
Heading into Monday’s early Patriots’ Day matchup at Fenway Park are two pitchers with wildly different track records against their opponents. Boston’s Daniel Bard is making only his second career major league start and has only pitched 18 career innings against the Rays. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s James Shields comes in as an established starter coming off a career year and has made 21 career starts against the Red Sox.
The Red Sox will be going for the four-game sweep of the Rays as they finish up the first series of their nine-game homestand. The stretch is a welcome change for the Sox after their calamitous 1-5 start, when the Sox struggled offensively and on the mound. The stretch raised serious question marks over the back end of the Red Sox bullpen and whether or not Bard should be moved into the closer spot following the injury to Andrew Bailey and early ineptitude of closer Alfredo Aceves and setup man Mark Melancon.
Now making his second start, Bard will enter the game with slightly less demand from the fan base that he be returned to the bullpen now that the Sox have started to right the ship. However, he will still have to prove with his performance that he belongs in the rotation. Fortunately for him, if past performance is any indicator, he is in good position to have success against the Rays.
During his limited experience against the Rays, Bard has been dominant. In his 18 appearances, Bard has recorded a 1.00 ERA, his fourth-best ERA against any AL team, while giving up just nine hits and six walks while striking out 17 over 18 innings. Of the nine current Rays he has faced, only Evan Longoria has multiple hits, while five other are hitless.
However, Bard’s past performance against the Rays will have less impact on the game than his abilities as a starting pitcher. In his outing against the Blue Jays last week, Bard went five innings and gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk. After the game, though, Bard received rave reviews from manager Bobby Valentine, who claimed Bard was the victim of some tough hits dropping and some bad luck.
On the other side of the matchup, Shields has history with the Red Sox in spades. The 30-year-old right-hander comes in making his third start of the season, looking to follow up his stellar 2011 season when he went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA, led the league with 11 complete games and four shutouts, made the All-Star team and came in third in AL Cy Young Award voting. Against the Red Sox in 2011, Shields was slightly less effective, going 2-3 with a 3.29 ERA, although he did have two complete games, including one shutout. Outside of last season, though, Shields’ numbers against the Red Sox are far less impressive.
Over his first six seasons as a starter, Shields has gone 7-12 with a 4.61 ERA against the Red Sox, his third-worst mark against all AL opponents, trailing only Chicago and Minnesota. At Fenway Park, Shields’ numbers only get worse, as his record drops to 1-9 and his ERA balloons to 6.75, with the lone win coming in 2010. In fact, Shields’ ERA is higher at Fenway than at any other AL ballpark.
Rays vs. Bard (RHP)
Evan Longoria (10 plate appearances): .222 BA/.300 OBP/.556 SLG, 2 hits, 1 home run, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Ben Zobrist (9): .000/.333/.000, 3 walks
Matthew Joyce (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
Luke Scott (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 hit, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Carlos Pena (5): .000/.400/.000, 2 walks
Reid Brignac (4): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts
Desmond Jennings (2): .500/.500/1.500, 1 hit. 1 triple, 1 strikeout
Jose Molina (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Jose Lobaton (1): .000/.000/.000
Red Sox vs. Shields (RHP)
David Ortiz (53 plate appearances): .326 BA/.415 OBP/.717 SLG, 15 hits, 9 doubles, 3 home runs, 15 RBI, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (49): .319/.347/.489, 15 hits, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (45): .103/.222/.128, 4 hits, 1 double, 4 walks, 11 strikeouts
Ryan Sweeney (21): .450/.450/.700, 9 hits, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Adrian Gonzalez (20): .294/.400/.471, 5 hits, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Nick Punto (15): .333/.467/.333, 4 hits, 4 RBI, 1 strikeout
Cody Ross (15): .286/.333/.429, 4 hits, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, 1 strikeout
Mike Aviles (12): .364/.417/.636, 4 hits, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (10): .000/.100/.000, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Kelly Shoppach (6): .000/.000/.000, 4 strikeouts
Darnell McDonald (4): .000/.500/.000, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
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