ST. PETERSBURG -- When Rays starter James Shields threw ball one to Yankees leadoff man Derek Jeter to kick off the 2012 regular season on Friday afternoon, the pitch also ended an odd but impressive streak.
Shields turned 30 in December, which is significant because the Rays had started a pitcher under the age of 30 for their previous 764 games, a modern Major League record that was previously held by the 1913-17 Washington Senators. Hall of Famer Walter Johnson was on that team that established the record at 704 starts. Jae Seo had made the last start by a Rays pitcher 30 or older when he took the hill on his 30th birthday -- May 24, 2007, against the Mariners. Prior to that day, the Rays had not started a pitcher 30 or over since 32-year-old Mark Hendrickson on June 25, 2006, against the Braves.
"It's an incredible streak," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know that you're going to see that one broken any time soon. Somebody may play more games than Cal Ripken before you break that particular [record]."