Shields has nothing but praise for rival Orioles

Shields has nothing but praise for rival Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields recently took a moment to look back at what happened in 2011, including the moment the Rays knew they had a chance to complete their September surge and overtake the Red Sox to secure the American League Wild Card berth.

"When we swept Boston [in three games in St. Petersburg]," Shields said. "That was our key moment. When you're gaining three games in three days, that's a substantial gain."

Shields noted that what happened never would have happened had the Orioles not made the choice to "not give up." The Red Sox played the Orioles seven times in their final 10 games, and the Orioles won five times, including the game on the final day of the season.

"They could easily have given up," he said. "I was telling some of the guys in the food room that maybe that was good karma for them last year, playing the game the right way, and now all of a sudden this year, they're in it. And that just kind of shows you what kind of character [the Orioles] have."

When asked if he thought it was strange to see the Orioles still in contention, Shields smiled.

"To be honest with you, for me, ever since I've been in the Major Leagues, they've been a great hitting team," he said. "I mean, as far as I'm concerned, they've always been one of the best hitting teams in the Major Leagues. They just never had the pitching. But this year their bullpen has been phenomenal. Their starting pitching has been coming around. They've had some very good starts by their starters."