Rays beat Pirates 5-1 in Price's potential farewell
ST. PETERSBURG - If Wednesday indeed was David Price's last start at the Trop before being traded, he went out in impressive style.
Price worked dominantly into the ninth as the Rays averted a series sweep by beating the Pirates 5-1.
Price was strong from the start, striking out 11 and allowing only five hits. But the last was a home run by Andrew McCutchen with one out in the ninth on his 120th pitch, and manager Joe Maddon decided that was enough. Price pounded the ball into his own glove behind the mound, then walked back up the hill and off the mound toward the dugout, receiving a loud standing ovation from the crowd of 23,761 and tipping his hat.
With the Rays unexpectedly sporting the majors' worst record, Price is considered likely to be traded, and possibly soon, though nothing appears imminent. The Rays head out Thursday on an 11-day road trip, and don't play again at the Trop until July 7.
Price got some help, too. Third baseman Evan Longoria raced to the side wall to chase down a foul ball and then hopped over it to end the third. And centerfielder Desmond Jennings made a running catch at the wall to end the seventh after Price had allowed two singles.
Taking advantage of three Pirates miscues, the Rays scored three runs in the first and rode that out for a while, getting only one more hit until the eighth. After Desmond Jennings singles, All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen couldn't make the play on a Ben Zobrist drive, leading to a run and putting Zobrist on third. Zobris scored when shortstop Jordy Mercer booted Evan Longoria's grounder. And Longoria moved up when James Loney singled off starter Charlie Morton's leg and the came around to score on a sac fly by Kevin Kiermaier.
They added to the lead in the eighth, when Zobrist, Longoria and Loney all singled, and then Kevin Kiermaier nicely positioned a two-out bunt.
Price acknowledged Tuesday the the trade speculation was wearing on him, saying "Obviously I think about it; it's why I've been in a bad mood for the past week and a half. It's nothing I really want to talk about. ... I don't know where I'm going, I don't know when I'm going, so there's nothing really I have to comment on."
Teams that had scouts at Tropicana Field on Wednesday included the Blue Jays and Royals (two each), plus the Braves, Brewers, Rangers, Nationals, Mariners, Twins and Orioles. Teams that have scouted him previously and are considered to have serious interest include the cardinals, Giants, Dodgers and Yankees.
Jake McGee replaced Price and got the final two outs.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.