Maddon digs deep for Game 2 starter

Maddon digs deep for Game 2 starter

ST. PETERSBURG -- Even before this American League Division Series started, some wondered why Rays manager Joe Maddon opted for James Shields to pitch Game 2 instead of Matt Garza, who had a significantly better regular season.

After Tampa Bay lost Game 1 -- putting Shields in a near must-win predicament on Thursday -- there was even more scrutiny with that particular decision.

So who better than Maddon to explain why Shields (13-15, 5.18 ERA) got the nod in Game 2 while Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA) will go in Game 3 on Saturday in Texas?

"Well, there's a lot of things to look at," said Maddon. "I mean, obviously on the surface you might think to go Garza here, but part of it is just the home and road kind of a situation. We feel Shields in this ballpark, we like him here, possibly a little bit more than in Texas, and vice versa with Garza."

At Tropicana Field in his career (including the postseason), Shields is 33-23 with a 3.57 ERA in 82 starts. On the road, he is 25-30 with a 5.00 ERA. This season, Shields was 5-7 with a 4.54 ERA at home, and 8-8 with a 5.82 ERA on the road. In his career at Texas, Shields is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in three starts.

In Garza's career at Tropicana Field (including the postseason), he is 22-20 with a 3.64 ERA. On the road, he is 22-25 with a 4.30 ERA. This season, Garza was 8-2 with a 3.51 ERA at home and 7-8 with a 4.27 ERA on the road. In five career starts in Texas, Garza is 2-3 with a 6.04 ERA.

"I know everybody is looking at Shields' on the surface numbers, but if you dig below the surface a bit, I mean, actually it comes down to the fact that this guy has been slightly unlucky this year regarding balls put in play," Maddon said.

Shields has given up 34 home runs this season.

"His walk to strikeout ratio is very good," Maddon said. "Of course, he's given up the home run, and you have to consider that, also. Although they hit some homers here yesterday, Texas is possibly a little bit more homer friendly ballpark than ours. So there's a lot of under the surface kind of things. It's kind of like a freakonomics look at how we're doing things here with having Shieldsy pitching today versus Garza.

"Again, surface stuff, you would definitely look at it in another direction. We tend to look below the surface sometimes, and so we chose to go with Shields today."

There were 174 home runs hit at Rangers Ballpark this season, vs. 162 at Tropicana Field.