Rays Fall 5-1 to Jays, Red Sox Magic Number Now 4

ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 23: Pitcher David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 23, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Looking at the line score doesn't tell the story of David Price's outing. He didn't pitch poorly, allowing two earned runs and striking out seven in six innings of work. The issues came with his fielding. He made two errors in the third inning that lead to three Blue Jay runs, putting the Rays in an early Grand Canyon sized hole.

With a man on first and one out, Price snagged a come-backer -- it may have ended up being a double play he had left it alone -- and fired the ball to second base. The runner had a good enough lead that Price should have gotten the sure out at first base. Doing so would have changed the whole outcome of the inning in my opinion. Instead of two men on and one out it would have been a man on second and two outs. That would have prevented what happened two batters later. With the bases loaded and one out, Eric Thames hit a chopper to the mound, Price lunged to his left, fielded the ball and made a high throw home, the ball glancing off of Kelly Shoppach's glove and skipping away allowing two runs to score.

Price has never been a great fielder, and those two throws were hurried and unfortunately set the tone for the night. For those of you saying Price isn't a big game pitcher...just stop. Were his August 12th and 17th starts at New York and Boston where he went eight innings in each allowing one total run not big games? What about his starts late last season against the Yankees and Orioles, before the Rays had clinched anything, where he equally as impressive? There's also the 2008 playoffs. That narrative is simply untrue.

In typical fashion when Price starts, the Rays offensive failed to give him much support. In his 13 losses this season the team has scored 18 runs total. In short, Brandon Morrow was fantastic. He can be hit and miss at times, but when he's firing on all cylinders he's extremely tough to hit. He struck out nine in his seven innings of work, but that doesn't really do his stuff justice. He induced 18 swinging strikes, with 12 coming on his 30 sliders. That's 24 percent, which is more than his stupidly high season average of 19 percent. The Rays had a few chances to get at him early, leaving men in scoring position in the first, second and seventh innings. In the seventh Kelly Shoppach came to the plate with two on and two out. Even though Morrow has reverse splits it seemed like a good time to pinch hit. It's not as if Shoppach has any success at all against right handed pitching. You have expanded benches for a reason this time of the year and it seemed like a waste of an opportunity, no matter how fleeting the moment may have felt.

B.J. Upton was ejected in the eighth inning after arguing with the umpire after being called out trying to steal second base with one out. It was an odd time to attempt a steal, especially with Longoria at the plate. Maddon said that there was no hit and run on, so either there was a missed sign or it was a mental error on B.J.'s behalf. I'm not one to usually criticize Upton, but he did peek back at home plate one too many times and came up out of his slide for some reason, letting a ball that bounced coming into the base beat him there.

  • With the Red Sox idle it the Rays fall to 2.5 games back with five to play. They desperately need to win out and have the Yankees sweep the Sox this weekend. 
  • The double play Morrow induced in the eighth was his first in over a year. That's pretty amazing.
  • Ramos, De La Rosa and Howell looked very good in relief
  • Thanks again to all those who attended the game via our Operation Devastation promotion.
Maddon's post-game audio for your listening pleasure
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