Luke Hochevar and David Price had a lot in common with David Price at the start. Both pitchers were number one overall picks in the MLB Draft, Hochevar in 2006 and Price in 2007, out of colleges in Tennessee, Hochevar from the University of Tennessee and Price out of Vanderbilt. Hochevar is 6’5″ while Price is 6’6″ and both weigh 220 pounds. According to Brooks Baseball, Hochevar and Price have each thrown four-seam, two-seam, and cut-fastballs along with sliders, curveballs, and changeups over the course of their major league careers. Hochevar posted a 2.13 ERA in 4 big league appearances the league after he was drafted in 2007, while Price posted a 1.93 ERA in 5 major league appearances during the regular season in 2008, the year after he was drafted. But there, the parallels stop. The right-hander Hochevar had struggled mightily throughout his big league career, entering Tuesday’s game with just a 37-54 record and a 5.28 ERA in 120 starts and 4 relief appearances, while the lefty Price has been outstanding, posting a nearly reverse 57-30 record with a 3.16 ERA entering Tuesday. It’s hard to associate Hochevar with Price anymore. But for one night, the two ex-number ones looked like mirror images of each other as they dominated opposing hitters on their way to a draw with one another.
Billy Butler singled for the Royals to begin the 2nd inning. In the 4rd inning, Luke Scott led off the inning with a hustle double. Matthew Joyce walked in the 4th. Lorenzo Cain singled in the 6th. Desmond Jennings walked in the 6th. Ben Zobrist walked in the 7th. Eric Hosmer singled in the 8th. That sounds like a lot of baserunners in the game from the 1st until the 8th innings. But it really is not. Luke Hochevar allowed the lone hit to Scott and 3 walks. David Price allowed only hits to Butler, Cain, and Hosmer. Hochevar went 8 innings allowing just the 1 hit, striking out 10 while walking 3. Price also went 8 innings allowing just the 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking none. Hochevar threw 105 pitches, 65 strikes; Price threw 114 pitches, 80 strikes. Both leaned heavily on their fastballs and cutters. And both dominated.
In the 9th, Fernando Rodney allowed a walk but worked around it with 2 strikeouts. Kelvin Herrera worked the bottom of the inning and allowed 1 hit but worked around it, striking out 1. The two teams were as evenly matched as it gets on this night. Nothing but luck alone was going to end the deadlock.
Joel Peralta got two quick outs to begin the 10th and seemed like he had worked a quick inning when Jeff Francoeur hit a groundball to deep short. Ben Zobrist made a great play to field the ball but made an ill-advised throw that went wide of first and back to the screen, allowing Francoeur to advance to second base on his error. Peralta then got Eric Hosmer out in front on a changeup and forced a weak flyball to center. However, it was weak enough that it dropped in front of B.J. Upton for a bloop hit, and that would prove to be the difference as Greg Holland worked a perfect 9th for the save as the Royals won 1-0. Herrera (1-1) earned the win, Peralta (0-1) took a tough loss after giving up the unearned run, and Holland nailed down his 6th save. The Rays got a dose of their own medicine as Hochevar matched Price inning after inning and a couple of bad breaks in the 10th cost the Rays the game. The Rays got great pitching once again, this time for Price, but saw their offense crumble before Hochevar and Royals pitching and lost 1-0 to bookend their 5-game winning streak with 1-0 losses. At least this one was a 2-hitter by Kansas City and far from a perfect game. The Rays look to rebound tomorrow as James Shields takes the hill against the Royals’ Luis Mendoza. The Rays hope to get great pitching once again, and this time to get the type of offense that fueled their winning streak to deliver them to a series win verus the Royals.