Wednesday’s game is unlikely to be David Price‘s last as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. If it was, though, what a finish it was for the ace left-hander. With nearly every contender in baseball watching, Price went 8.1 innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 11 while walking only 1. His game began in rocky fashion as Josh Harrison singled with one out and stole second base, but Price stranded him at second. He did not face another major threat until the seventh inning, when Gaby Sanchez and Jordy Mercer both singled but were also left on base. Finally in the ninth, Andrew McCutchen teed off for a solo home run, but it did not put a damper on Price’s outstanding outing. Price became the first pitcher since Johan Santana in 2004 to strike out ten batters in five consecutive starts, and set the Rays record for strikeouts in a month. What a game it was, and it will be sad to see an ace capable of this pitching elsewhere.
David Price was dominant, and the offense did nothing to hold them back. They tagged Charlie Morton for three runs in the first inning, highlighted by an RBI triple by Ben Zobrist. Zobrist had an outstanding game, going 2 for 3 with that triple, a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Then defensively at shortstop, he made two outstanding plays, showing off how much of an asset his right fielder’s arm is even at one of the toughest positions to play in baseball. Zobrist certainly isn’t a lock to be traded like Price, but the teams in attendance for Price certainly had to like what they saw from him as well.
Morton settled down from there to go seven strong frames, and he even matched Price with 11 strikeouts versus only 1 walk, but the Rays offense seized the opportunity in the first inning and were back at it when he departed. The bottom of the eighth was an outstanding inning for the Rays as James Loney drilled a half-swing RBI single before Kevin Kiermaier brought another run home on a perfectly executed sac bunt. Kiermaier’s bunt would not have been possible, though, had Evan Longoria not been running on Loney’s single and gone first to third. Longoria and Kiermaier displayed the type of hustle we have been used to from the Rays while Loney and Kiermaier provided the clutch hitting. If it isn’t too late for the Rays to turn their season around, it is going to take a lot more innings like that.
The Rays are off on Thursday before heading to Camden Yards for a doubleheader against their division rival Orioles. Alex Colome makes his first start of the season in the day game before the red hot Jake Odorizzi hopes to maintain stride in the nightcap.