In 2011, David Price took a backseat. After being the American League Cy Young runner-up in 2010, Price was overshadowed by “Complete Game” James Shields and American League Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson. But after his start on Tuesday night versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Price will make sure all eyes are back on him in 2012.
Magic was in the air at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night- maybe not quite enough, but we saw the potential. David Price took the hill for the Rays and retired the first 9 Angels batters he saw, throwing just 29 pitches in the process. Price’s perfect game bid ended with a walk to Erick Aybar to begin the 4th, but his no-hitter remained intact. the no-no finally ended with a Mark Trumbo single to begin the 5th. But after a Maicer Iztruris single later in the inning, Price proved himself to be unfazed by the no-hitter ending, retiring 11 of the next 12 Angels batters to get him to the 9th inning. And in the 9th, Price allowed two singles but stayed composed and retired the side to complete his first nine inning complete game in 364 days. Price went all 9 innings, allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. 80 of his 119 pitches were strikes. Price forced just a 9-8 groundout to flyout ratio, but almost nothing was hit particularly hard. Not a single ball reached the warning track all game for Angels hitters. He was firmly in control and was at his absolute best. We’ve known for a while that David Price has this type of outing in him. If Price can remain on his game, opposing teams are in trouble.
The Rays offense wasn’t too shabby in this game either. The Rays bombarded Angels starter Ervin Santana with 4 home runs, all solo shots. Desmond Jennings led off the game with a towering flyball into the left field seats. Then Luke Scott hooked one into the right field seats in the 4th, starting a string of three straight innings with a homer. B.J. Upton slammed his first homer of 2012 with a flyball off the foul pole in left, and Carlos Pena notched his 1000th career hit with a no-doubt home run into the right field seats. The Rays added a 5th run on an Upton sac fly. 7 of the 9 batters in the Rays lineup had at least one hit, although only Scott (2 for 4) had multiple hits. The Rays could not put together rallies versus Angels pitching, but when they got mistake pitches, they made the opposition pay. But the offense was an afterthought compared to the pitching of Price.
The Rays’ rotation is scary enough as-is. If Price can team with James Shields for a dominating 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, no one will ever want to face the Rays, especially in the postseason. We saw Price at his best tonight. We know he won’t hurl a shutout every game, but can he consistently overpower opposing hitters? If he can manage that, Rays fans are going to have a whole lot to smile about this season.