Splitting a road series is never a bad thing. It just feels much, much better when you win the final two games to split instead of losing them. The past two games the Rays have flexed their offensive muscle, scoring 10 and eight runs respectively. Today also marked the first win for David Price, which has more symbolic value than actual importance.
Price worked deep into the game for the second straight start, allowing three earned runs while striking out nine. Through the first three innings the White Sox had three runs on four hits. Over the next four they managed just a lone single and walk while striking out five times. As the Rays have been wont to do this year, all the White Sox runs came with two outs. He wouldn't have gotten the win if Maddon had taken him out of the game following the sixth inning with the Rays trailing and Price sitting at 105 pitches. The Rays ran into some good fortune as Tyler Flowers lined into a double play after a leadoff single by Conor Gillaspie, who was running on the pitch. Price got Dewayne Wise to ground out to end his day.
As he came off the mound Price seemed unhappy with home plate umpire Tom Hallion, who had a pretty tight strikezone all afternoon, and exchanged some words. He didn't get ejected, though, the typically even keeled Jeremy Hellickson did. Per Rays' beat writer Mark Topkin, Price said he said nothing to provoke Hallion and the bench was upset because Hallion told him to "throw the ball over the f-in plate". If that's the case, and I would imagine it has to be since Hellickson doesn't get mad over nothing, I hope MLB reprimands Hallion in some way.
It was good to see his fastball average 94mph and even better to see him use his changeup with such success. He threw it just 7 times but recorded six strikes and four whiffs.
The Rays' offense came alive in the sixth inning. With the team trailing 3-1 Desmond Jennings leadoff the inning with a ground rule double. That was quickly followed by a Matt Joyce home run, tying the game. The Rays would take the lead in the eighth as Ben Zobrist singled home Sean Rodriguez. Evan Longoria followed that up with a walk to load the bases. After a James Loney fly out, Ryan Roberts came up to face Jesse Crain. Roberts hit a pop up to short right field and Alex Rios simply dropped it, allowing Joyce and Zobrist to score, giving the Rays a 6-3 lead. They'd tack on two more in the ninth as Fernando Rodney closed it out.
It wasn't quite as impressive as last night's offensive barrage, but eight runs on eight hits is still impressive. Now the team heads to Kansas City to face the first place Royals and old mate James Shields.