In his first outing off the disabled list, David Price was absolutely electric, touching 98 MPH with his fastball as he struck out 10 while walking none in 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits. Rays fans hoped his second start would bring more of the same–but at least in terms of fastball velocity, they didn’t get it. Price did touch just 95 MPH with his fastball but averaged just 93.91 MPH overall according to Brooks Baseball. That was no matter for Price, however, as his performance in his second start off the DL was just as good as his first as he tossed his first complete game of the season as the Rays beat the White Sox 3-1.
The first 5 innings saw Price play Houdini, escaping jam after jam no matter how formidable. The White Sox racked up two hits each in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings, but each time Price got out unscathed, stranding five runners on base (one was caught stealing) and holding the White Sox to just 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position. Finally in the 6th, Price’s bubble burst as Josh Phegley tagged him for a solo home run, pulling the White Sox within 2-1. But instead of coming apart, Price simply turned the heat on a little more. Price struck out 10 of the last 11 men he faced to finish off the complete game, striking out only 3 but 2 in a scintillating 9th inning to nail down what was quite an impressive start. Price went all 9 innings allowing just 1 run on 8 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. He threw just 98 pitches, 72 strikes. He was far from overpowering, not just lacking his fastball velocity but not commanding precisely either, and the same held true for his changeup, cutter, and curveball. He threw the curveball just 8 times, never really getting a feel for it, and he lost one of his key strikeout offerings in the process. But it didn’t even matter that Price’s stuff was far from at its best. He attacked the strike zone and feared nothing, and what could have been a mediocre outing for another pitcher turned into a great game for David Price.
Fans at the Trop had a pitching duel on their hands as John Danks pitched very well for Chicago as well, allowing just 3 runs, 2 earned, in 7 innings, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. Luckily, the Rays offense was able to get just enough against him to make sure Price stayed comfortable. The Rays pieced together a run in the 1st inning on Desmond Jennings‘ leadoff double, Sean Rodriguez‘s sac bunt, and a sac fly by Ben Zobrist and extended their lead on Rodriguez’s 2-out RBI single in the 6th. That second run couldn’t have come at a better time, just ahead of Phegley’s home run. Luke Scott hit a booming triple off the top of the right field wall and scored on Jose Molina‘s sac fly to give Price a 3-1 cushion in the game. The Rays were actually out-hit by the White Sox 8-5, but they scratched together runs any way they could, stranding just 1 runner in scoring position in the game. The resiliency of the Rays offense was much like Price’s determination on the mound, and the result was a great win and a sweep of the Chicago White Sox.
Next up, the Rays welcome the Twins to town for a 4-game set as they look to continue this run of 8 wins in their last 9 games. Roberto Hernandez takes on Samuel Deduno in Game 1 at 7:10 PM on Monday night.