David Price Wins a Nail-Biter; Rays Take Series from Blue Jays

Ah, what a game. It's fun watching a pitchers' duel, but even more fun when your team wins. Price versus Marcum looked like a marquee match-up on paper, and the two didn't disappoint. 

David Price brought his best stuff to the game tonight, going eight innings while allowing six baserunners (four hits, two walks) and striking out seven. He made a batter swing and miss at his two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, curveball, change-up, slider - every single one of his pitches. In all, he totaled 15 swinging strikes (14% of his total pitches) with most of them coming off his fastballs. Price seems to have reached a consistent game plan: pump heat early in the game, blowing your fastball by batters, and then catch them off guard with your change-up and curveball their second and third time through the order.

Last night, Price got a little bit lucky and unlucky. On the lucky side, there were multiple hard hit balls that the Rays' defense scooped up and turned into outs, including diving stops by Evan Longoria in the second inning and Jason Bartlett in the fourth.* But at the same time, Price also got squeezed by the home plate umpire on a couple occasions, especially early in the game. After the first couple innings, though, Price got calls in his favor on both sides of the plate, so it all evens out in the end. 

*Criticize Bartlett's defense all you want: that was a legitimately nice play.

Offensively, the Rays couldn't get much going - that is, all Rays except Sean Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a double short of hitting for the cycle and he put the Rays' on the board with a solo homerun in the sixth inning, tying the game at one. He was also in position to score again in the seventh inning, reaching second base with no outs, but was stranded there when Brad Hawpe struck out and Navarro and Bartlett grounded out. The Rays snuck their final run on the board courtesy of a botched pick-off attempt, allowing Carl Crawford to advance into a position to score single to left field by Longoria.

  • Brad Hawpe is now officially a Ray: four strikeouts and five left on base in one game. Is our DH position cursed or something?
  • Speaking of Brad Hawpe, there was an interesting managerial moment concerning his at-bat in the eighth inning. I could go into details, but RJ Anderson already did; in short, Maddon should have pinch-hit for Hawpe with Shoppach. It's not often that you see Maddon miss a chance to play match-ups, and this definitely appears like a minor blunder.
  • Desmond Jennings did not have a good major league debut; he was hitless in three at-bats, including two weak groundballs. He hustled like crazy out of the box, though; he's going to make infields rush play and botch throws for years to come.
  • For a game against the Blue Jays, that was a very tense and exciting game. They're a better team than they get credit for, so thankfully we only have three more games against them this season.
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