Game 143: Even David Price’s Return to Dominance Not Enough

By Robbie Knopf

Perfection is fleeting. We think that we are seeing it before our very eyes, but before we know it, it’s disappears, never to return. But we don’t live life expecting perfection–we take what we can get and hope that it will be enough. The worst feeling, though, is when  you do everything possible but all your efforts fall short. That is exactly the feeling that David Price is feeling right now after the Rays’ 2-0 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night.

David Price didn’t have no-hit stuff. His fastball touched the mid-90’s sparingly, but usually sat at 93 MPH, far from the best we’ve seen from him. He had a solid cutter and threw some good changeups and curveballs. Overall, though, his command was far from precise even as he threw plenty of strikes, and the result was plenty of hard contact. Misplaced pitches were lifted as flyballs towards towards the wall or bullets towards the gaps, but for the first 4 innings, every single one found its way into the glove of an awaiting Rays defender. It was strange–Price had no-hitter through 4 innings, but he did not look that great and it seemed like only a matter of time until the Red Sox got to him. Every Rays’ fans hope was that any damage the Red Sox could do against Price was be minor and that the Rays would provide their ace with the run support he needed to win. It didn’t happen. Price came apart every so slightly, and the rest of the Rays did nothing to compensate.

To start the 5th inning, Price left a changeup up in the zone to Mike Napoli, and Napoli drilled a flyball to right-center. Desmond Jennings got there, but he mistimed his jump every so slightly, allowing Napoli to make it to second with a double. Jonny Gomes then reached out on an elevated Price cutter to tap it into centerfield for a single, and Jennings’ ill-advised and poorly placed throw towards home moved Gomes to second base. Daniel Nava bunted Gomes to 3rd before Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s sac fly made it 2-0 Red Sox. Price returned to form from there, and his final numbers were quite astounding. He went 8 innings allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 9 while walking 1. He wasn’t nearly as dominant as his strikeout to walk ratio would say, laboring for a career-high 127 pitches, but he battled to give the Rays a tremendous outing that should have won them this game.

Price along with Joel Peralta in the 9th combined to 4-hit the Red Sox. The Rays got 4-hit themselves, but of the shutout variety. Clay Buchholz threw 5 shutout innings in his return from the DL, working around 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6. The Rays’ two singles against him in the second inning turned out to be their best threat of the game. Craig Breslow worked around a pair of walks to toss scoreless ball in the 6th and 7th, and Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara allowed just 1 hit in the following 2 innings to seal the game for the Red Sox. Yunel Escobar drilled a 2-out double off Tazawa in the 8th, but Uehara came in and used just 3 pitches to escape the jam. The Rays just never got anything together at the plate and left David Price out to dry in the process.

Hopefully they’ll be able to get a few lucky bounces during the remainder of this series.