It’s been a long time coming for the real David Price to show his stuff and give not only the Rays but the fans at Tropicana Field something to really talk about.
Price was not only outstanding in throwing a 5-hit complete game shutout against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night, but he was backed-up by the power-bats as four different Rays hit home runs.
For just the second time in his career Price tossed a shutout – his first since a complete game shutout against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 25, 2010 and his complete game (his third career) was also a first since 2010.
The accomplishment of a complete game has been long overdue as in 2011 he was the only Rays starter not to throw one, despite pitching eight innings or more nine times and throwing the second most innings (224.1) without a complete game in AL history.
“Tonight, David Price pitched a heck of a game for them. I don’t know if we’ve seen a pitcher have a better game against us. We had a couple of opportunities but he shut the door. We had a couple of early hitters on and couldn’t get anything going. It wasn’t just fastballs; he had four pitches he was throwing on any count. That was a pretty good game he pitched,” said Angel’s manager Mike Scioscia.
More importantly though, Price has won consecutive games for the first time since last August when he picked up “W’s” over the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Price improved to 3-1 on the season and with the shutout lowering his ERA from 4.23 to 2.63. Additionally, he walked just one with six strikeouts – a season low in walks and a season high in strikeouts.
One of Prices’ problems in not being able to throw complete games has been his inability of keeping his pitch count down. Entering the game his per inning average had been at 19.7, but all changed as he averaged just 13.2 pitches and 119 in the game to mow down the Angels and get the complete game.
“I just needed that long outing to get that feeling back,” Price said. “It gets old coming out after the fifth or sixth inning. You know, it feels good to give our bullpen the day off and coming off a day off. Hopefully everybody’s ready for tomorrow. It’s good for our team.”
In addition to Price’s performance, the Rays not only added some stellar defense but pounded Angel’s starter Ervin Santana with four home runs, which included Carlos Pena’s 1000th career hit.
Desmond Jennings started the home run barrage his lead-off shot in the bottom of the first on a 3-2 pitch for his third of season (third in his past five games) and with that hit Jennings has now hit safely in eight of his last nine games, batting .316 (12-for-38) over that span to raise his average to .261 up from a season low .194.
Luke Scott’s fourth home run in the fourth inning gave the Rays a 2-0 lead, giving him 15 RBI in 13 games this season, a new career high for the month – his previous high for April was 11 (21 games) set in 2009 with the Orioles. The homer was also his first hit at Tropicana Field this season.
On a 0-1 count, B.J. Upton lifted his shot into the left field stands for his first of the season giving Price and the Rays a 3-0. The Rays would hit one more home run on the night and that belonged to Carlos Pena.
Pena’s 1-1 dinger into the right-field seats in the sixth inning was his fourth of the season, but more importantly it was his 1,000th career hit. Of his 1,000 career hits, 479 of those have come with the Rays.
“It’s been a great start for him [Pena]. He’s been working such great at-bats… Carlos is bright enough to understand the “process” process of this game. He’s not getting hung up on batting averages and homers and RBI, he’s working good at-bats on a consistent basis,” said Ray’s manager Joe Maddon.
Meanwhile, the Angels continue to struggle on the mound and at the plate. With the loss, Santana is now 0-4 with an ERA of 7.23 through his first four starts. The four homers allowed in the game were a career-high, giving him a major league-leading 10 on the year.
Hitting the long ball against Santana isn’t something new – he came into season tied for eighth in the majors in home runs allowed (164) from 2005-2011 and in 2011 alone he gave up 26. Home run number 10 though didn’t arrive until May 30.
All of the Rays’ home runs came on different pitches – it was a 3-2 fastball to Jennings, a 3-2 slider to Scott, Upton muscled an inside fastball for his shot in the fifth and Pena connected on an outside-corner fastball.
“Some of them were good pitches and some of them were mistakes,” said Santana.
On the offensive side of things for the Halo’s, Albert Pujols went hitless in his fourth consecutive game (0-for-16), the first time that has happened since September 2010. His average is at .232 and he has yet to hit a home run this season (69 at-bats) and it’s been 98-at-bats since hitting last one (Sept. 22, 2011 with the Cardinals).
“I am not trying to go out there to do too much. I have been in this situation before. It’s part of the game,” said Pujols.
“Stuff like that, you can’t let get into your head. You just have to keep fighting and know it’s a long season. I don’t concentrate on individual numbers, I concentrate more as a team and I think we’re a better ball club than what we’ve been showing, but it just seems like everyone in the lineup is struggling.”
The Rays have won 3 in a row and 5 of their last 6 games after dropping 5 of their previous 6. They’ve also won 11 of their last 12 and 18 of their last 21 regular season games at Tropicana Field.
The Rays have pitched to a 2.15 ERA (71-IP, 17-ER) over the last 8 games while lowering their overall team ERA from a season-high 6.75 to 4.53 (147-IP, 74-ER).
The Rays pitching staff has gone 52 innings since giving up their last home run, a solo shot by Jeff Mathis with 2 outs in the 2nd inning on April 18 at Toronto. That homer less stretch is the longest since they fell 1 out shy the franchise record with 59.1 innings without giving up a home run from Sept. 27-Oct 2, 2010 (club record is 59.2 innings from June 11-16, 2006).
Rays Minor League News and Notes
Durham Bulls; Triple-A (6-14, 4th place, 7.5 GB), International League: With their 8-5 loss on Tuesday night to the Norfolk Tides, the Bulls dropped to 1-12 on their current 14-game road trip, including nine straight losses, their longest Triple-A losing streak since they moved to that level in 1998.
Montgomery Biscuits; Double-A (10-10, 3rd place, 1.0 GB), Southern League: The Biscuits were 7-4 winners over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Tuesday, clinching their third straight series win. Hak-Ju Lee had three hits and three RBI.
Charlotte Stone Crabs; Single-A (9-9, 2nd place, 6 GB), FloridaStateLeague: Charlotte closed out their 7-game road trip with a 6-4 win over the Palm Beach Cardinals. Down 4-3 in the ninth, the Stone Crabs scored three to take the lead as Robby Price hit the game-tying triple and scored the go-ahead run on a sac fly by Mikie Mahtook.
Bowling Green Hot Rods; Single-A (13-6, 2nd place, 1.0 GB), Midwest League: Drew Vettleson was a triple short of the cycle in the Hot Rods 3-2 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits on Tuesday night. Vettleson is now batting .333, his highest mark of the season and has hit safely in his last six starts. His solo home run in the first inning put the Hot Rods on the board.
Send the Rays to Kansas Cityfor the All-Star Game
The All-Star voting began last Friday online at mlb.com and will start on April 30 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays have Sean Rodriguez on the ballot at shortstop and Ben Zobrist at second base, along with: Carlos Pena at 1B, Evan Longoria at 3B, Jose Molina at catcher, Luke Scott at DH, and Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the outfield.
Longoria is also one of 10 ALcandidates for the home run derby. The All-Star Game is July 10 in Kansas City.
For more info: Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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