David Price found himself in a familiar situation Thursday as he left the mound after striking out Curt Casali. His line was pretty impressive, complete game (this one in 8 innings), one hit, one run, and nine strike outs. He ended the game in the midst of retiring 23 in a row. This was the first time Price lost a 1-0 game and the Rays fans were happy. Obviously, because he now pitches for the Detroit Tigers.
Beginning the game, my dad asked me if I thought Rays fans would boo Price when he took the mound. I said no. That I was sure of. I watched the game on the MLB Network and even the Tigers announcers posed that question. Price didn’t want to be traded. He didn’t twist management’s arm demanding to be sent somewhere else. He wanted to be a Ray for life, but economic realities didn’t allow that to happen. No Rays fan should boo Price, ever. As well, David Price showed the class character that he is. He came into a very emotional game, his return to Tropicana Field, and pitched like he had just won the CY Young award yesterday.
One inning was what did him in, and that inning wasn’t even his fault. In the bottom of the first, Ben Zobrist grounded a ball to the Tigers’ shortstop, Eugenio Suarez, who sailed his throw to first baseman Victor Martinez. Brandon Guyer, inserted in the three-hole because of his ability to hit lefties, hit a Price offering into the right centerfield gap. Zobrist scored from first and Guyer was on third with his first triple of the season. Up stepped Evan Longoria, with one out and a runner on third, and he struck out. Wil Myers followed and struck out as well. This has been the bane of the Rays season, not getting easy runs in—that, and the roller-coaster offense of Evan Longoria. That was it, as far as offense was concerned, for the Rays. After Guyer’s triple, no other Ray would reach base.
However, today was different. Alex Cobb was on the mound and he matched his buddy Price pitch for pitch. Cobb has been pitching of recent like the ace Rays management and fans hoped he would be and today was no different. In his previous seven starts, Cobb has posted a 5-2 record and surrendered only 6 runs in 46.2 innings. You knew Cobb had to be good and he was. While Price was befuddling Rays hitters, Cobb was preserving a slim lead. The biggest trouble he ran into was in the seventh when Torii Hunter led off with a double and Miguel Cabrera advanced Hunter to third with a ground ball. Martinez was then walked and took second on a wild pitch. Cobb battled J.D. Martinez, the next hitter, and struck him out. He got Nick Castellanos to fly out and disaster was averted. Cobb’s line was pretty good itself. He went seven, gave up only two hits, walked two, and struck out six.
Brad Boxberger came in for the eighth and struck out Alex Avila. Suarez then doubled and up stepped Rajai Davis. To begin the inning, Kevin Kiermaier was brought on for defensive purposes. If you’ve ever watched Looney Tunes, you will no doubt agree Kiermaier on defense reminds you of the Tasmanian Devil. He is a whirlwind that moves from point A to point B and eats up every flyball along the way. Davis hit a short pop to right that was dropping fast and Taz, a.k.a. Kevin Kiermaier, appeared out of nowhere and caught the ball. Boxberger, fearing his strikeouts per 9 might take a hit, struck out Ian Kinsler.
Jake McGee closed out the ninth for the Rays win. Up next is a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Come back here for all the details.