NEW YORK — There seemed to be a little bit of a debate after Thursday night's 5-3 loss to the Yankees.
Rays starter David Price believed he was on his game and throwing the ball where he wanted it but the talented Yankees hitters were just up to the challenge in rapping a season-high 11 hits off him, including two home runs, in seven innings.
"I made some good pitches … and they hit 'em," Price said. "That's that."
Manager Joe Maddon, after watching replays, had a different view, that Price wasn't as sharp as he had been.
"I thought he was catching more of the plate than normal," Maddon said. "That's what I saw, and they're not going to let you do that over there. They're the team, if you do make those mistakes, you're going to pay for it."
Either way, the result — combined with poor execution, especially at the plate — left the Rays with another loss and heading to Baltimore tied for first place in the American League East with the Orioles at 20-12 but with only Wednesday's four-run ninth-inning outburst against the Yankees keeping them from a five-game losing streak.
Price had been dazzling in winning his previous four, but there were several indications that was not going to be the case on a chilly night in which he lost to Yankees ace lefty CC Sabathia for the first time in their six matchups.
Most telling were the two home runs, both hit by left-handed batters: Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano.
Price had allowed only six homers to lefties in 598 plate appearances over his first 100 big-league games (never two in one game) and only one extra-base hit to a lefty in his first six starts this season.
"They're good lefties, though," Maddon said. "They're not your run-of-the-mill lefties. Cano hits lefties well, and Granderson has gotten a lot better over the last couple years. They both struck those balls well. They beat us with the home run. That's who they are, and that's how we lost."
The Rays had given Price an early lead, taking advantage of the Yankees' sloppiness to score an unearned run off Sabathia in each of the first two innings.
But Price gave the runs back, allowing a homer to Granderson to open the second, then a run on a messy sequence that included a walk to No. 8 hitter Eduardo Nunez, a single by No. 9 hitter Chris Stewart and Price's throwing error when he cut off a throw to the plate. Granderson has three of the eight homers Price has allowed to lefties and a major-league-most 19 off lefties since the start of 2009.
"That was a good fastball (to Granderson) down and in," Price said. "I'd throw that pitch again. He put a good swing on it, and he hit it well."
The Yankees broke the tie in the fifth when Nick Swisher singled and Cano homered to right. That pitch, Price allowed, was not so good. "A slider that was in the middle of the plate," he said. "Just a bad pitch. (Cano) put a charge into that one as well."
The short-handed Rays didn't do much against Sabathia, who struck out 10 while throwing a season-high 119 pitches over eight innings. Twice they had a chance to do more, and Will Rhymes failed to get down a bunt, something he said he normally can. "A play that we really need for him to be able to do," Maddon said.
Add their usual ineffectiveness with runners in scoring position (2-for-11) and the Rays were somewhat fortunate to leave town with the one win.
"It's better than none," Maddon said.