Sometimes there's just one team that you cannot beat. Back when the Devil Rays were terrible, it used to feel to me like they always beat the Red Sox, despite the fact that the team was so bad. And this season, it seems as though the Rays simply can't beat the A's.
After today's 4-3 loss, the Rays have now lost five of the last seven games they have played against the A's (all within the last two weeks). The Rays fought hard in today's game and almost pulled out the win, but they fell just a tad short.
David Price did his best Scott Kazmir impression today, lasting only 4.2 innings while allowing 10 baserunners (7 hits, 3 walks) and striking out seven. He relied almost exclusively on his fastball again today, but his command was off and he couldn't seem to hit his spots. He fell behind on many batters, worked deep into count after count, and quickly racked up a high pitch count. And after getting handed a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning, Price promptly gave it away in the top of the fifth by allowing a two-run home run to Hideki Matsui.
But let's get back to Price's pitch selection. He threw 85 two- or four-seam fastballs today, 77% of his total pitches -- and the pitch he threw next most often was a variation of his fastball: a cutter that ran around 89-90 MPH. All in all, Price only threw 13 off-speed pitches all game (5 changeups, 8 curveballs), and he seemed to have a difficult time locating them for strikes.
Even when he's not on his game, Price still has dominant stuff (10 whiffs, 7 strikeouts tonight). He needs to get his feel back for his pitches, though, and I'm baffled as to why he hasn't thrown more off-speed pitches recently. I have full faith he'll get everything straightened out eventually; it's just a matter of how soon.
- For all of Price's struggles, the Rays still had a great chance to win this game. They were only down by one run going into the sixth inning, and they tied the game in the seventh on a home run from Evan Longoria. The bullpen held the A's scoreless all the way until the 10th inning, when Jake McGee let up the game-winning home run to Josh Willingham. The Rays rallied late to try and close the gap, getting two runners on in the bottom of the tenth with one out, but then they couldn't bring a run home.
- And of course, the Rays wouldn't have made it into extra innings if it wasn't for Casey Kotchman and Desmond Jennings. Kotchman hit his sixth home run of the season in the fourth inning, and Desmond Jennings had three hits and drove in one run.
Jennings' first hit was a piece of beauty. He placed a perfect bunt down the first base line and easily reached base. I swear, Jennings continues to impress me. He has plate discipline, blinding speed, and can actually bunt? I think I'm in love.