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KC@BOS: Shields strikes out eight over six strong

Tampa Bay will see a familiar face on the mound when the Rays open a series with the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday.

Kansas City ace James Shields will pitch against his former team for the first time since he was traded in the offseason.

"Obviously, it's going to be a little different, but I'm going to treat it the same as I always have," Shields said. "I'm going to go out there and compete and try to win a ballgame.

"It's going to be a little chess game out there. They know me, I know them."

Since becoming the Royals' No. 1 starter, Shields has pitched quite well, recording a quality start in four of his five games.

In his last outing, the 31-year-old righty held the Tigers to three earned runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out four in eight innings. Shields retired the last 10 batters he faced.

"In those situations, he ups his game," manager Ned Yost said. "The deeper he gets in those situations, the tougher he gets."

Opposing Shields will be Alex Cobb, who was one of the reasons the Rays had the luxury of trading one of their best arms.

Cobb has pitched extremely well since taking over as Tampa Bay's fifth man in the rotation, supporting a tidy 1.82 ERA, and his last outing was probably his best.

Cobb shut out the Yankees over 8 1/3 innings, giving up only three hits and one walk, while striking out seven.

"I felt really good out there tonight," Cobb said. "I knew throwing out my first bullpen [session] that I was going to have good fastball location. When you have that mindset going into the first couple of innings, you get in kind of a groove and things just start to work out for you."

Rays: Reinforcements are on the way
Tampa Bay will likely get one of its key players back on Tuesday as Luke Scott looks to be fully healed from a strained right calf that's kept him sidelined this season.

"What it means from Scotty's perspective, putting him in the middle somewhere and getting him hot, getting him driving in runs like he can, it just makes us even better," manager Joe Maddon said. "This guy's a good RBI guy."

• Jose Molina and Yunel Escobar may also be ready to play on Tuesday. Both didn't play on Sunday, with Escobar last suiting up on Wednesday. Molina was available in an emergency. Maddon hopes to have both back in the lineup against the Royals.

Royals: Starters going deep into games
In the club's first 22 games, the starters had gone six or more innings 17 times, and it's a big contrast for Yost.

"Last year, you get past the fifth and you start looking at matchups [opposition batters against your relief pitchers]," he said. "Now with these guys, you let 'em go. You don't worry about matchups unless they're just getting absolutely hammered or until the 90- or 100-pitch mark."

• Greg Holland recorded his sixth save on Saturday, and is among the best when it comes to striking out hitters. Since fanning Joe Mauer with the bases loaded in a driving rainstorm on April 9 to record a save, Holland has fanned 12 of the 16 men he's retired spanning 5 1/3 innings, while earning saves in all five situations in that span. He leads the Majors in strikeouts per nine innings among relievers with an 18.00 mark, fanning 16 in eight innings.

Worth noting
• Tuesday will mark Cobb's third career start against the Royals, all at Kauffman Stadium. He is 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA (15 innings, eight earned runs). In his last outing against K.C. on June 25, 2012, he threw his first career complete game, and was the first of its kind in 16 years. Cobb allowed a career-high 13 hits and eight runs over eight innings, while the Rays were shut out, 8-0. It was the first complete game with 13 or more hits and eight or more runs since Tim Wakefield did it in 1996 with the Red Sox.

• Since June 20, 2011, Evan Longoria has 49 homers and 149 RBIs in 188 games. During this span, he leads the Majors with 4.69 at-bats per RBI, and ranks third with 14.16 at-bats per home run. Only Toronto's Jose Bautista (12.44) and Colorado's Wilin Rosario (14.11) have more.

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