Found May 23, 2012 on Fox Sports Florida:
Tune into Sun Sports at 12:30 p.m. to watch the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Although Tampa Bay's James Shields is tied for the major league lead in victories, he hasn't been particularly sharp lately. A start against the Toronto Blue Jays could help him regain his composure. Shields looks to become baseball's first seven-game winner as he takes the mound for the Rays in Wednesday's series finale with the Blue Jays, one of his favorite opponents. After posting a 2.73 ERA in his first four starts, Shields (6-2, 3.77 ERA) has yielded at least four runs in four of his last five outings. Against Atlanta on Friday, the right-hander gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks with eight strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss. He was done after throwing 115 pitches, and his high pitch counts have led to several early exits. Shields, who led the majors with 11 complete games last season, has averaged 111.8 pitches in his last five outings, but has thrown 6 1-3 innings or less in each. Two of his complete games last year came against Toronto, as he posted a 0.71 ERA in winning his three starts in the series. He is 6-2 with a 3.15 ERA in 10 outings versus the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. The Rays (26-18) dropped Monday's series opener with Toronto 6-2 before bouncing back with an 8-5 victory the next night. They're 5-2 against the Blue Jays (24-20) this season and have won 17 of 25 against them since the start of last season. Tampa Bay pounded out 14 hits Tuesday with Carlos Pena, Luke Scott and B.J. Upton all homering. Pena, who was moved up from the middle of the lineup to the leadoff spot, snapped an 0 for 18 slide with a three-run homer and finished with two hits. "You can't really quantify how much of a difference it makes, but Joe (Maddon) is really smart by shifting things like that," Pena said. "It changes the energy and good things like this happen, not only individually but as a team. We put up some runs on the board and felt more comfortable." Tampa Bay's offense had been struggling, coming into Tuesday's game having totaled 13 runs in losing four of five. Replicating Tuesday's output could be difficult, however, against scheduled starter Ricky Romero (5-1, 3.64). Romero, 4-2 record with a 2.38 ERA in six starts against the Rays since the start of last season, allowed three runs, eight hits and three walks in six innings of a 7-3 win over Tampa Bay on April 17. Since 2011, Ben Zobrist is batting .125 in 16 at-bats against Romero, Matt Joyce is hitting .143 in 14 at-bats and Sean Rodriguez is batting .077 in 12. Against the New York Mets on Friday, Romero permitted one run, three hits and four walks in six innings of a 14-5 win. Base on balls have been an ongoing problem for the left-hander, who has issued 14 free passes over 17 1-3 innings in his last three outings. "I think at times I start aiming the ball, but ... I'll be better at it," he told the Blue Jays' official website. Fixing his control, however, might not be so easy against a patient Rays team that ranks second in the majors with 163 walks. The Blue Jays, winners of five of seven, got another big game Tuesday from Jose Bautista, who finished with three hits and two RBIs. The slugger is batting .340 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in the last 12 games after opening the season with a .177 average, five homers and 15 RBIs. He is 2 for 12 with a pair of homers and four walks against Shields since 2010.

Rays post lineup card with superhero names for each player

The Tampa Bay Rays are never short on ideas to keep things loose in their locker room. A day after two of the team's relievers were spotted in the dugout wearing gladiator helmets, the team posted its lineup card with each player getting assigned a superhero name. Carlos Pena, for example, was dubbed Mr. Fantastic, B.J. Upton was The Flash, Luke Scott was Wolverine and so on...

Rays players in dugout don gladiator helmets

During Monday night's game at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Fernando Rodney and another Rays player had some fun by putting on gladiator helmets during their game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Your browser does not support iframes. Nothing wrong with a little harmless fun in the dugout, as long as no one is getting hurt. If the Rays start pulling out swords, then...

Carlos Pena Led Off Last Night

Carlos Pena led off last night. Carlos Pena led off for the first time in his career last night. Carlos Pena led off, despite averaging about two stolen bases per season and going against one old-school adage (speed at the top!) even as he fits another (second basemen bat second!). Just how rare was the occurrence, though? And given the current state of the Rays, was it a good idea...

Tampa Bay Rays players don gladiator helmet in dugout

This is TAMPPPAAA...During a recent game between the Tampa Bay Rays/Toronto Blue Jays, Rays closer Fernando Rodney wore a gladiator helmet in the dugout. Below is Rodney donning the helmet to the amusement of others and an unnamed player who decided to wear it as well: Your browser does not support iframes.

Tampa Bay Rays post lineup card with players’ superhero aliases (photo)

Say what you want about the Tampa Bay Rays and their antiseptic stadium, the entire organization, from the players all the way up to management and the front office, those guys sure know how to have fun. When the Rays players aren’t wearing gladiator helmets in the dugout and the organization isn’t booking the Go-Gos [...]

Luke Scott: Living On The Outside

In January, the Tampa Bays signed 33-year-old Luke Scott to a one-year, $5M contract (plus a club option for 2013) to serve as the team’s primary designated hitter. He struggled last season with the Baltimore Orioles, only hitting .220/.301/.402 and failing to be at least a one-win player for the first time since his rookie season in 2005. The vast majority of his struggles, however...

Pedro Martinez, Bobby Valentine Put Tampa Bay Gladiators to Shame With Top 10 Dugout Hijinks (Gallery)

Baseball has a long and storied tradition, filled with many distinguished men and their historic contributions to the sport. It also is notorious for the many jokers and pranksters to fill its ranks, keeping teammates on their toes with their mirthful ways throughout the long grind of a major league season. The Tampa Bay Rays have recently emerged at the forefront of the silliness...

Tampa Bay Rays Pitchers Wear Gladiator Helmets in Dugout During Game (Photo, Video)

The Tampa Bay Rays are fighting for every win, and it appears that they are willing to literally fight if need be. On Monday, Fernando Rodney and Joel Peralta wore gladiator-themed helmets in the dugout while waiting for their turn to pitch against the Blue Jays. The masks, which appeared to be modelled after the one Russell Crowe wore in the Oscar-winning Gladiator move, are pretty...

Braves bullpen throws sunflower seeds at ball boy after he boots grounder (video)

Your browser does not support iframes. A couple days late on this video, but it’s far too amusing to pass up briefly mentioning it. One of the more important responsibilities of a ball boy at work in a major league ballpark is to ensure the safety of members of both teams’ bullpens if those bullpens [...]

P John Gaub: Claimed off waivers by Texas

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Tampa Bay Rays address injury issues, acquire player

The injury bug has been destroying the Tampa Bay Rays lineup so far this season as the club just added their tenth player to the disabled list this season. Jeff Keppinger has been placed on the DL after suffering a broken toe. Tampa Bay acquired journeyman Drew Sutton yesterday to help fill the void injuries have created on the team’s roster. Sutton was obtained by...

Rays dress as nerds, wear bow ties to honor Ken Rosenthal (Pictures)

The Rays traveled to Boston on Thursday and wore costumes on their road trip as usual. But this themed road trip was different from their others — it was a tribute to a baseball reporter. The Rays dressed as nerds to honor FOX Sports MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal, who wears bow ties for charity while reporting on FOX Saturday MLB telecasts. Like usual, manager Joe Maddon came up...

Rays hope win in Toronto changes momentum

ST. PETERSBURG The Tampa Bay Rays will travel to Boston Thursday night sporting specially designed bow ties officially dubbed "The Ken RosenthalNerd Road Trip" in honor of the Fox Sports baseball analyst. But their latest theme trek should be a lot more fun thanks to the bow that B.J. Upton helped them tie around a crucial home series Wednesday afternoon against the...
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