Durable starters take stage for Rays, Rangers
Shields hopes to prevent Holland from drawing Texas even
ARLINGTON -- Game 2 of the American League Division Series between the Rangers and Rays at the Ballpark on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET will feature two pitchers known for going all nine innings.The Rays, who earned a 9-0 victory in Game 1, will start James Shields, whose 11 complete games this season were the most in the Majors since Randy Johnson's 12 in 1999. Shields was second in the AL in innings pitched, third in strikeouts and third in ERA. His opposing number, Texas starter Derek Holland, tied Shields with four shutouts shutouts. Holland and Shields were the only two AL starters to reach that plateau. Of those accomplishments, all career bests, Shields (16-12) said he was most proud of the complete games. "Obviously I wanted a complete game [in 2011]," Shields said. "I hadn't had a complete game since 2008 before this season, and surprisingly I got 11 of them." Shields had 25 quality starts this season, counted on by the Rays to pitch deep into games and keep their offense within striking range. Unlike Shields, however, Holland has been dogged by inconsistency, notching just 19 quality starts in 32 games started. Holland was pulled out of the game before the second inning on both July 2 and Aug. 5, giving up 11 total runs in just 2 1/3 innings between the two outings. He has been steadier of late, going 5-0 in his past six starts with a 2.06 ERA. "I mean, I've read a lot about [my struggles]," Holland said. "It was definitely a roller coaster. I had my bumps and bruises. The main thing is it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and I feel that I finished pretty well." With the Rangers losing home-field advantage in the series, the pressure falls on Holland to ensure that the Rangers get at least one win in these first two games to avoid going to Tampa Bay in a 2-0 hole. "We have always bounced back, and we will bounce back," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We have a five-game series here. They got the first one. I don't think it matters if they won, 1-0, or 9-0. We got beat. We can take that. We'll bounce back tomorrow." The road team has won each playoff game between these two between this season and last, including the 2010 ALDS, with the Rangers taking the series, 3-2. Holland says he doesn't feel any added pressure attempting to break this streak. "No, I'm good," Holland said. "I'm not going to change anything, I'm still going to be the same. I don't want to let that type of stuff get to me. I'm just going to put my stuff on like normal." If Shields wants that streak to continue, he will have to improve on his own personal experience from last year. Shields lasted just 4 1/3 innings in a 6-0 defeat at Tropicana Field. "I struggled all season long last year," Shields said. "[Rays manager Joe Maddon] had me on a short leash going into the playoffs. That was probably the reason why I pitched Game 2 [rather than Game 1] last year." Shields will have to silence a Rangers offense that has not been shut out on back-to-back games all season. "They hit homers, they move guys over, they got speed, they steal bags," Shields said. "They play the game the right way. I think that's one of the reasons why they score so many runs is because they play the game the right way. They are aggressive."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.