After winning five straight close games the Rays, backed by a stellar outing from David Price, made things a bit easier for all involved Friday with a 7-2 victory over the A's.
To say Price was superb would be an understatement. He threw 106 pitches in his eight innings of work, giving up three hits and striking out 12, including at least one from every member of the Oakland lineup. He generated 20 swinging strikes(!), including three on thirteen changeups and four on nine cut fastballs. The A's have one of the worst lineups in baseball so it's not as impressive as if he did it against the Rangers or Yankees, but a 0.34 FIP is a 0.34 FIP. In his past two home starts Price has a line up 17IP, 8H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 18K. Over his last three starts he's struck out 24 and walked just three. Once again he did a wonderful job of mixing his pitches, and throwing away from the hitter's strengths. Looking at his strikezone plot (shown below) you can see how he mostly attacked lefties inside and stayed away from righties. He's been a revelation this season, gaining confidence in all his pitches and using them to his full advantage.
It likely makes it much easier to pitch when your offense gives you a six run lead, Roy Halladay aside. Every starter excluding Ben Zobrist reached base at least one time. The table was set by Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton who had two hits a piece, including two doubles from Upton. Luke Scott and Matt Joyce continued their impressive starts to the season by provided run scoring hits in the third and fourth innings. With Longoria out it's important that those two keep hitting well to soften the blow. Even Jose Molina got in on the action, belting his first home run of the season and 30th of his career.
The team is rolling right now, winning six in a row and 12 of their last 13, improving to a major league best 19-8. Jeremy Hellickson looks to keep the momentum going tomorrow night as he squares off against Bartolo Colon.