ANAHEIM, Calif. — The major-league-most 16 victories are certainly attention-getting. The AL-best 2.39 ERA is nearly as prized. The 159 strikeouts and .221 opponents' average are worth noting.
But the number David Price is most proud of at this point of his season is his 11 consecutive starts of working seven or more innings.
"It's being able to go deep into games," Price said.
Price did it again Thursday night, holding the Angels to three hits and striking out eight while working seven innings in the 7-0 victory, running his winning streak to a team-record eight games.
He made a point Friday to spread the credit as widely as he could, mentioning the quality of the defense behind him, the improved offense, the good work behind the plate by catchers Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton, and the strength of the bullpen.
But he also acknowledged he has done well, specifically in threatening situations.
"I feel like the biggest thing is that I'm throwing better with runners in scoring position," he said. "I feel like I threw the ball fine last year. But the only thing I really struggled with was when I had runners in scoring position.
"Obviously, you're going to give up more runs, you're going to have a higher ERA, you're going to limit your chances to win some ball games. So that's something I feel like I have done better this season."
Price was pretty good in 2010, going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, including a stretch in which he went 8-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 10 starts. But he is actually in a better stretch right now, going 8-0 and 1.70 over his past 11.
Manager Joe Maddon said Price's improved fastball command has been the biggest factor.
"He's at that point now where when he needs a strike, he can throw that pitch for a strike whenever he wants to wherever he wants to," Maddon said.
"I think therein lies the key. I think the true reason for his success is having an idea where his fastball is going at all times."
Becoming the Rays' first 20-game winner is a possibility for Price, and he will be a candidate for the Cy Young. But his focus at this point is beating the Royals on Tuesday.
"Obviously, 20 wins would be awesome. But it's not something I sit here and think about before or after my starts," he said. "Right now my focus is on 17 and my next start.
"If I can get there, it would be awesome. If not, hopefully I can continue to throw the ball the way I have and the Rays come out with a win on that day even if I don't get the decision."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.