David Price’s Last Start: An Unfitting End to an Unbelievable Rays Tenure


Glorious endings, wouldn’t we all love them? Wouldn’t the Tampa Bay Ray fans have loved if David Price had one in their uniform? Picture it, it’s October and there is a chill in the air because the air conditioning in Tropicana Field won’t shut off. It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded.  They’re playing one of those nondescript National League teams. The number four hitter in the lineup is up to bat, because the sabermetric people say the number four spot is where your best hitter should hit. He has already driven in four runs against Price, but miraculously the Rays still lead 5-4. This is a dream, so obviously Evan Longoria hit a grand slam earlier. Price goes 3-0 on him and throws a fastball the number four hitter takes a wicked cut at. He fouls it straight back. The next pitch, Price buries a change-up in the dirt that the big bad number four hitter swings over the top of. 3-2, pay-off pitch…

This was the way it was supposed to happen. The Rays loaded up this offseason to make a run at a World Series title. This was, more than likely, going to be Price’s last season anyway. One more arbitration year awaited where, unless the world ended or the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, the Rays could not afford Price. But that was okay, because he was going to get a hero’s send-off. He certainly had a hero’s beginning. In Game 2 of the 2008 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, Price recorded the final two outs to record his first major league win. Eight days later, in Game 7, David Price would slip into the phone booth once again and reemerge in his hero outfit to record the final five outs and send Tampa Bay to their first and only World Series to date. In Game 2 of the World Series, he would earn a second save, all before earning his first regular season win. Clearly another inhabitant had escaped Planet Krypton.

David Price’s last start as a Ray turned out to be a 5-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Sure, it was against a National League team, but the calendar was wrong. It read July 30 instead of October and the Rays were not running laps around the American League East. At 53-55, they sit 7.5 games off the division lead and 6.0 out of a Wild Card spot. Despite a recent hot stretch, Rays general manager Andrew Friedman did something that is actually uncharacteristic for him—he moved a player, whose days were numbered, at the trade deadline. And fans chew bitterly on the 5-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Of course, the Rays had a golden scoring chance in the first inning, but squandered it and did little afterwards. Price would go seven innings. and give up four runs, three of them earned, but the Rays wouldn’t score a run for him and you can’t win if you can’t score. Ask James Shields about that. He also lost his final start as a Ray. Shields’ last start was different, however. He went nine innings, giving up just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 15 while walking none. The Rays still didn’t score him a run.

It seems strange, but if you were to sum up David Price’s career as a Ray, it would always be finishing second behind Shields. In the brief history of the Rays, Price ranks second behind Big Games James in games, games started, wins, most losses (one I’m sure Price doesn’t mind Shields has), innings pitched, and strikeouts. Price didn’t become the leader of the staff until Shields left, and he also finishes second in regards to the return he yielded when he was traded. There are two things, though, that Price does have and Shields does not. He won 20 games and a Cy Young award, neither of which Shields can say. But they both did lose their last game as a Ray and the offense scored nary a run for either of them.

Oh, and to end that scenario, the dream one, Price elevates a high fastball, gets the scary number four hitter of the nondescript National League team swinging, game over. David Price and Astro walk off into the sunset heroes.

Never mind, they do anyway.