With yesterday's two CG performance by James Shields and Jeff Niemann, David Price had some big shoes to fill this afternoon as he took on the Red Sox in the rubber match of this three-game series. And fill them, he did. Like Shields and Niemann yesterday, Price only allowed three hits against the potent Sawks and while he didn't throw a complete game, he did end up with a mighty fine line: 8IP, 0R, 3H, 3BB, 1HBP, 5K. He mixed his pitches well, only throwing ~57% fastballs, but made those heaters count as he topped out at a tick under 98MPH on the night, according to PitchFX. Of his 116 pitches, he induced ten swinging strikes (8.6%).
My eyes tell me that Price was not as effective as Niemann was last night, but when you put up eight goose eggs against one of the league's best lineups, 'effective' is a rather mild word. The closest the Red Sox came to scoring off the Velociraptor Jesus was when Jacoby Ellsbury tripled to lead off the sixth inning. Price would buckle down and strikeout Pedrioa on a borderline pitch (that the Imp would later walk on in the eighth). He then got Adrian Gonzalez to tap a ball back to the mound and catch Ellsbury in a rundown to end the scoring threat.
After striking out Gonzalez to end the eighth, Price would give way to Kyle Farnsworth to finish out the game. It wasn't a save situation for Farnsy, but he treated the 4-0 lead like it was 1-0 and slammed the door with a one-two-three ninth. I was surprised he wasn't more confused by being called on to pitch today since it was the first time a reliever was used in this series.
Offensively, the Rays were powered by Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton, and Evan Longoria. Upton and Longo both had solo shots Over the Monster off of John Lackey, and Zobrist contributed with two doubles and two RBI. "They" say you can't win games without putting up crooked numbers, but the Rays proved the haters wrong as they scored one run in the first, fourth, fifth, and seventh innings and like the cavemen of old, rode the Velociraptor to victory.
- Johnny Damon also had 2 "doubles" on the day. I say "doubles" because each went about 150 feet. The first came in the opening frame and was a short popper to right that scooted past Darnell McDonald's
golden archesglove and allowed Damon to reach second. Damon's second double was a replica of his two-base-hit last night when he hit a soft liner down the left field line and it bounced off of the cut of the stands in foul territory to rest in the no man's land of shallow left field. He seriously gets the weakest extra base hits of any player I've ever seen.
- Desmond Jennings looked lost against John Lackey as he went 0-3 with a sac bunt and 2K's off of the Sox Starter. If you'd have told me that Jennings' worst game this series would come against John Lackey, I wouldn't have believed it. I don't care about righty-righty splits and whatnot, I would have called you a liar. And I would have been wrong. I'm sure he'll rebound on Friday...
- When Wade Davis takes on King Felix and the Seattle Mariners @ 7:10 PM. Tomorrow is the last off-day until opening night of the NFL season (9/8) so let's hope these guys got their rest in and there will be no evident hangover.
- Oh, and before I forget: Kelly Shoppach sent another bat flying into the stands this afternoon. Does anyone have an accurate count on how many times he's done that this year? Consensus in the GDT was that it was over eight times, can anyone be more accurate than that? Also, anyone going to games for the rest of the season should make a "Shoppach Bats into the Stands" sign with the count on it and update it when he sends another one flying. It would be best, of course, if you're sitting behind the third base dugout.