Rays looking to show that they can win at home

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Rays looking to show that they can win at home
Fresh off of a historic first for the team, the Tampa Bay Rays will be looking to ride that success and play solid ball against the Detroit Tigers in an area that's given them the most trouble this year: their home ballpark.

The Tampa Bay Rays will want to continue their success from Monday's game at Tropicana Field against the Tigers, where they produced a momentous first in franchise history. The Rays’ Matt Garza kicked off an 11-game home stand, the team's longest since the 2005 season, with a no-hitter against the Tigers. This was Tampa Bay's first no-hitter in the franchise's 2,039th game.
Tampa Bay’s James Shields will try to outpitch Justin Verlander in Tuesday's follow-up engagement.
For Shields and for the Rays in general, the game plan is simple. Tampa Bay, which boasts the best road record (33-18) of any Major League team, is trying to assert that same dominance at home. The Rays are a mediocre 27-20 at home for the season and Shields has only one home win all season.
But the Rays are firm believers that there is no place like home. "It's nice to get back home, especially after that long road trip we just had," said Shields. "It's very important for us to win at home. We've done a phenomenal job on the road, and that's kind of the crazy part of the game. One year, you're good at home and not good on the road, and this year, fortunately, we've been really good on the road and not so good at home."
The Tigers are playing with a depleted lineup and are desperate to fill the voids left by Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, who are all on the disabled list. Now Detroit’s roster is relying heavily of unproven talent and newly acquired players trying to make a name for themselves, such as Scott Sizemore and Jeff Larish.
But Shields knows better than to expect an easy outing. The Tigers still have American League MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera and top rookies Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, presenting a stiff challenge.
"Detroit's been known to have some young guys come up and play really well," said Shields. "They've got a couple young guys now who are playing really well and stepping it up. I think they brought up a couple guys who are pretty good, and we can't take them lightly. It doesn't matter who's coming in or who got hurt or anything, our goal is to win games."
Detroit, meanwhile, has a fairly simple strategy to try to contain the Rays. Tampa Bay currently leads the Major Leagues with a whopping 126 stolen bases, with mainly three players chipping in. Carl Crawford leads the Rays with 34, while B.J. Upton has 27 and Ben Zobrist with 19. Tampa Bay managed to steal three bases on Monday night, but Detroit is directing its energy to prevent this from reoccurring for the rest of the series.
"We might set a record [Tuesday] night for the number of times we throw to first base," said manager Jim Leyland. "The trick to the running game is you have to be aware of it, but you can't be consumed by it."
Tigers: Verlander on fire
The right-hander has won seven of his last nine starts and is on an extended hot streak. Verlander started slow with a 1-2 record and a 5.53 ERA in April, but he's rebounded to win 11 of his last 14 games. The former first-round draft pick has completed at least six innings in 13 of his last 15 starts and is 4-0 with a 3.55 ERA in six career starts against Tampa Bay.
Rays: Shields no place like home?
Shields has lost eight of his last 11 starts and is looking to turn his fortune around. Shields hasn't managed a win at home since April 28 and he's gone 1-5 with a 5.59 ERA in his nine starts at Tropicana Field.
"I feel like I've pitched pretty well the last couple starts," said Shields. "Things can get better. That's the good news. With a little luck on my side and keeping up what I'm doing and grinding it out, things will happen. The other pitchers have been stepping up. [Wade Davis has] been doing a great job his last couple starts, and [David] Price has been doing his thing."



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