7:10; FSN Florida
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM
|MIN||RH Ramon Ortiz||35.0||2.57||3.60||1.54||2.33||7.20||.630||0.77||0.97||1.02||13.80|
|RAYS||RH Jamie Shields||36.0||3.75||9.25||1.75||5.29||6.50||.642||1.75||0.92||1.13||14.44|
RH Ramon Ortiz, Minnesota:
Overview-Taking to the hill for Minnesota in the rubber game of their series with Tampa Bay is former Angels veteran Ramon Ortiz. Ortiz, signed by the then-California Angels back in 1995, spent ten seasons in the Anaheim organization, making his major league debut late in the 1999 season. He made another 15 starts with the Angels' AAA Edmonton affiliate before being called back up to the Angels midway through the 2000 season. He has had a firm grasp on a major league job ever since, making 96 starts with the Angels between 2001 and 2003, and pitched in a part-relief, part-starting role for the ballclub in 2004, his final season with the organization. The Twins are Ortiz's third team in the last three seasons, with his original departure having been for Cincinnati. He pitched with the Washington Nationals in 2006, and was signed by the Twins last offseason to fill a hole in their rotation. Ortiz has made over 200 starts in his major league career, and is nearing 1300 innings all-time. He has been a consistently mediocre pitcher for much of that time, posting a career 4.79 ERA with unimpressive peripheral stats. He had a 5.57 ERA in 2006 with Washington, part of a decline recently that has seen his full season ERAs rocket to 5.20 or above in three of his last four seasons. His return to the American League has been successful one thus far however, as he has a 2.57 ERA through five starts with the Twins. He has managed both low walk rates and home runs, keeping his infamous penchant for giving up the long ball in check so far this season. While Ortiz's success thus far has been far more legitimate than that of some of the other low ERA starters Tampa Bay has faced this season, he is still leaning heavily on balls in play to get his outs, and that likely means he will regress back to the level of mediocrity he is accustomed to eventually this season, though don't be surprised if he puts up a low to mid-4 ERA.
Recent Starts-Ortiz has been extremely consistent in each of his starts this season, surrendering two runs in three of his five starts, with the other two outings sandwiching that total at one and three runs given up. He kept the walks in check up until his last start, surrendering two all year before giving up four in his last outing against the Detroit Tigers. Similarly, he has kept his home run rate in check other then one start against Seattle in which he gave up two in one game. Besides that, he has given up just one all year. His last outing, in which he surrendered three runs over six innings to Detroit, was his second start against an AL Central opponent. He has pitched twice against AL East teams, Baltimore and New York, and only once against an intra-divisional rival. Today's outing will mark his fourth straight road start after throwing his first two in the Metrodome. He was the only Minnesota starter not to face the Rays when the two teams met up in Minnesota a couple weeks ago.
vs RAYS-The bulk of Ortiz's experience facing the Rays comes from his years with the Anaheim Angels, however he has made two starts against the team in interleague play. The Rays in facing him tonight become the only American League team that has faced Ortiz with each team he has pitched for over the course of his career. Last time out against the ballclub last year with Washington, Ortiz had a superb outing in an otherwise down year. He earned the win in going seven innings of work, surrendering just one run on four hits and no walks while striking out five. He has a 3.77 career ERA against Tampa Bay in 10 starts, including a 3.15 ERA in three starts at Tropicana Field, where he has not pitched in four years. Among Rays hitters, Carlos Peña has the most success against him, going 7 for 17 with two home runs, a double, two triples, and seven walks all-time. Carl Crawford is 3 for 8 with a home run and a double off of Ortiz also, however no other Ray has more than five at bats of experience against him. Collectively the team is hitting .283/.400/.630 in 46 at bats against the Twins' righty.
RH Jamie Shields, DEVIL RAYS:
Overview-Statistically Tampa Bay's best starting pitcher this season, Jamie Shields takes to the mound tonight against the Minnesota Twins with excellent peripherals to back up his claim to success this season, and he looks to add the Minnesota Twins to his list of teams outperformed with tonight's start, as he missed them in the Rays' swing through the land of 10,000 lakes. Drafted by the Rays in the 16th round of the 2000 MLB Draft, Shields ascended slowly through the minor leagues, but made his debut in mid-May of last season and stuck in the rotation for the remainder of the season, posting impressive stats and solidifying his place in the starting rotation. Though his 4.84 ERA may suggest mediocrity, he had a good strikeout rate and low walk rate to suggest potential improvement in the future, and indeed he has improved on each of those three stats thus far in 2007. While he has still yielded a home run rate that is far too high for comfort, he has managed to avoid being hit hard without conjuring up signs of a fluke. In a season that has been slightly off thus far for ace Scott Kazmir, his contributions every fifth day have been integral to the ballclub's success, and they will likely continue to remain that important until Kazmir begins to get into a groove, and better personnel is selected to replace the other 3/5 of the rotation.
Recent Starts-Shields has looked "good" in nearly every outing in which he has pitched this season, even in his five run games against Baltimore and Texas earlier this season. He has either put up superb peripherals or looked good through most of his start in nearly every outing, though he has been especially impressive in his last two starts. After posting a 5.40 ERA in his first three starts, Shields has allowed just three runs over his last two starts, throwing eight innings of work in each of those outings. His best start of the season was his tragic game on April 22nd against Cleveland, in which he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk over eight innings of work, tying the team record for strikeouts by fanning 12 Indian batters. Despite all this, the Rays blew the lead in the ninth inning of that ballgame and Shields did not get a decision. He has struck out 21 over his last two starts, to just two walks. He allowed one run on four hits in his last start in Oakland, with that one run coming on a lone solo shot. He struck out nine and walked just one, again. This will be Shields' second start of the season against the AL Central; he has started two games against each of the three AL divisions this season.
vs MIN-The Rays' right-hander struggled last season in his only start against Minnesota in 2006. At the Metrodome in mid-June, Shields made the start against the Twins and gave up five runs in just 4.1 innings of work, while allowing eight hits and walking two. The outing was his fourth straight decision to that point resulting in a loss, and was his third loss in three starts. This was his initial string of poor production in an inconsistent rookie campaign. No Twins batter really has much of a rapport on him, however, as the extent of Minnesota individual experience against him is three at bats.