ST. PETERSBURG — The gathering beyond first base looked somewhat familiar, the Rays excitedly celebrating a 5-4, 10-inning victory, albeit somewhat muted since it wasn't a homer or a double but a walkoff walk by Luke Scott that beat the Jays.
But there were two other recognizable sights Thursday night that the Rays (16-18) were just as, or even more, pleased by: the pitching performances of ace David Price and closer Fernando Rodney.
"That was pretty impressive," manager Joe Maddon said. "They both looked normal tonight. And that's a wonderful thing for us."
Price prevailed in the historic matchup with friend R.A. Dickey, just the third-ever meeting of reigning Cy Young Award winners, though the stage was not quite as grand as both struggled coming in and only 11,979 were gathered at the Trop.
Price looked sharp, aggressive and at times dominant, closer to the velocity (hitting 94 mph regularly and 95 mph multiple times) and conviction of his 20-win 2012 season. He worked eight innings, allowing four runs (two earned), with seven hits and a walk while striking out eight, throwing 82 of his 117 pitches for strikes.
"Today was the David Price I'm used to seeing," Scott said.
Price acknowledged that he felt good and that it was maybe the best or second best of his eight starts, though he still only has one win. Catcher Jose Molina said they made a change in moving the target for his cutter more inside.
Maddon was insistent, and somewhat adamant, that this was the start of something for Price.
"I think this could be a springboard for him, I really do," Maddon said. "Against a team like that, they've been swinging the bats well, that have a solid lineup, you don't mess with that group. I think David went out there and challenged them. I loved his aggressive approach. I thought it looked a lot more like him. I really think that's a great game for him to build off of."
Rodney was similarly impressive, though he revealed that he did do something different: carrying a lucky plantain he got from a fan, similar to his rather successful routine during the World Baseball Classic.
And that worked, as he hit 100 mph several times, including a strike three to Melky Cabrera to end the ninth with two Jays on base.
The Rays went up 2-0 in the first but Price couldn't hold it — the eighth lead he has surrendered in his past six starts — though they came back to tie twice. The second tie came on a 422-foot homer by Yunel Escobar leading off the seventh against his former teammates.
Kyle Farnsworth got the Rays through the top of the 10th, teaming with first baseman James Loney for a great play on a bunt for the third out.
Then they rallied with two outs to win it. Evan Longoria doubled, and the bases were loaded on an intentional walk to lefty-swinging Loney (by lefty Aaron Loup) and an unintentional walk to Ryan Roberts (by Brad Lincoln).
Scott was down 0-and-2, fouled off a pitch, then patiently took four balls to win the game.
"It's nothing like a walkoff homer; a walkoff homer is as good as it gets," Scott said. "But a walkoff walk is the same result: a Rays win. And that's what's most important."