Saturday, June 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

David Price strikes out 12 and Tampa Bay Rays win sixth in a row, 7-2 over Oakland A's

ST. PETERSBURG — Left-hander David Price has put up impressive performances already this season in tying teammate James Shields for the American League lead with five wins, including a complete-game shutout against the Angels.

But Price said he had never felt or pitched better than he did in Friday's 7-2 win over the Athletics in front of 18,799 at Tropicana Field. With his fastball command the best it has been all year, Price struck out 12, including every hitter in Oakland's lineup, and allowed three hits over eight innings.

"He was fantastic," manager Joe Maddon said.

Price has won four straight starts, and the best-in-the-majors Rays (19-8) are winners of their past six and 12 of 13. Tampa Bay tied a major-league record with a 13-1 home record to start the year.

"The last three starts is as good as I've seen Price," rightfielder Matt Joyce said. "He's throwing the ball wherever he wants to throw it and is confident in everything he's throwing. If you throw those in one bag, it's a bag full of trouble with a guy that's throwing 97 (miles per hour)."

Price (5-1, 2.35 ERA) could tell from his pregame bullpen time he felt good, and it showed in an 106-pitch outing.

"Electric stuff," said ex-Ray Jonny Gomes, who had two hits. "When I left in 2008, he was just rearing back and chucking. … He looked pretty good. Twelve strikeouts, one walk. Pretty much speaks for itself."

Maddon said he can see Price's confidence re-emerging and a big difference is the pitcher has become a better strike-thrower. Maddon believes the 26-year-old is still learning his craft in terms of "court awareness," how to use all his weapons in certain situations.

"And heads up when he does," Maddon said.

The Rays gave Price plenty of support, taking the lead with a three-run second. Maddon credited the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce with an assist in helping pick the lineup by suggesting putting outfielder B.J. Upton in the second spot for the first time this year. Upton responded with two RBI doubles. Designated hitter Luke Scott added a two-run single and Molina his first homer of the year, a two-run shot that made it 5-1 in the fourth.

The biggest defensive play came in the top of the third from Joyce, who made a diving catch near the rightfield foul line, sliding into the wall as he robbed Jemile Weeks of extra bases.

"I thought I had a chance," Joyce said. "I was getting closer and closer to the wall. I figured I'd go for it. Fortunately, I caught it. It always hurts less when you catch it."

Maddon saw growth moments in Price, including in the eighth, when after falling behind 2-and-0 to Kila Ka-aihue, the two-time All-Star stepped off the mound, took a breath, refocused and struck out the first baseman in three pitches.

"That's the kind of stuff I love to see out of him," Maddon said.

Price said he has used visualization since his days at Vanderbilt but Maddon pointed out to him after his three-inning loss in Boston on April 13 that he wasn't doing it as much as previous seasons. Price hasn't lost since.

"I like where I'm at personally, and I'm getting in a groove," Price said. "It's starting to roll pretty good right now."

Comments
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

NEW YORK — So what does the boss — lowercase, of course, around here — think of this up-and-down, hot-and-cold Rays season so far? Appropriately, a variety of things.In a 30-minute chat with the Tampa Bay Times before Friday's 5-0 l...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

NEW YORK — RHP Nathan Eovaldi made an impressive return to Yankee Stadium on Friday to face his high-powered former teammates.It's too bad he didn't get any help from his current mates, in what ended up a 5-0 Rays loss.Eovaldi was in command an...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Give RHP Nathan Eovaldi credit for not letting emotions get in the way in his return to Yankee Stadium. He said he planned to treat it as all business, despite memories and friendships and he did just that, working impressively into the eighth.The Ra...
Updated: 7 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

Coming off Thursday's 4-3 loss, the Rays will face the Yankees again tonight, and they are starting a pitcher quite familiar with the Yankee Stadium mound, RHP Nathan Eovaldi.Having spent 2015 and 2016 with the Yankees until sustaining the elbow inju...
Published: 06/15/18
The golden age of baseball movies dawned 30 years ago this week

The golden age of baseball movies dawned 30 years ago this week

"Walt Whitman once said, 'I see great things in baseball. It's our game, the America game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.' You can look it up.'' – Annie SavoyThirty years ago this week — June 15, 1988 — the ...
Published: 06/15/18
How the Yankees granted an 87-year-old Seminole man’s Wish of a Lifetime

How the Yankees granted an 87-year-old Seminole man’s Wish of a Lifetime

  ELMHURST, N.Y. — Walking back into the brick building where his firefighting career began on Sunday, June 16, 1957 — "61 years ago, if you want to do the math'' — Sal Reale knew Thursday exactly what had changed, noting the reloc...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Rays drop another one-run game, 4-3 to Yankees

Rays drop another one-run game, 4-3 to Yankees

NEW YORK — After the struggles he had against the Yankees on Thursday, Rays lefty Blake Snell was planning for a late night.Not out on the town trying to forget about it, mind you.Sitting in his room with his iPad watching video to lament and l...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi eager to face his former Yankees team on Friday

Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi eager to face his former Yankees team on Friday

NEW YORK — Having spent the 2015-16 seasons with the Yankees, Nathan Eovaldi spent time before Thursday's game visiting with some of his former teammates.But by the time the Rays right-hander takes the mound against them Friday night, he said t...
Published: 06/14/18
Marc Topkin’s takeways from Thursday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeways from Thursday’s Rays-Yankees game

By some standards, LHP Blake Snell didn't do that badly Thursday, allowing four runs over five innings, three on one swing. But how he got into the mess was walking four and throwing barely half his pitches for strikes (57 of 105).OF Carlos Gomez is ...
Published: 06/14/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to keep rolling

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to keep rolling

Coming off a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays and with wins in four of their last five games, the Rays open a daunting 16-game stretch of their schedule tonight in New York against the majors-best Yankees.The Rays will have their top starter, LHP Bl...
Published: 06/14/18