ST. PETERSBURG — Rays left-hander David Price impressively earned a complete game in a 7-3 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night.
But his protective cup deserves a save.
Price's night was nearly derailed in the fourth, when Joe Mauer's line drive drilled him in the groin, but the cup cushioned the blow and somehow remained intact.
"I guess it's the best place to hit me," Price said. "I don't know how I didn't really feel it or it didn't break my cup."
Manager Joe Maddon and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield made a quick visit, but once they saw Price smiling, then laughing, they all did, too.
"I'm extremely lucky," Price said. "If that ball is 2 feet up it's in my face or in my throat. It's not good. So it's probably one of the last places I wanted to get hit, but I was very fortunate for it to not hurt."
Other than that fourth inning, when Price gave up three runs on two homers, he cruised, striking out 12 and walking one in a 113-pitch gem against one of the league's highest-scoring clubs.
"He was pretty much on top of his game," Maddon said.
Meanwhile, the Rays (10-10) offense returned, chasing Twins starter Kyle Gibson — who entered with a 0.93 ERA — with seven runs by the fourth. The biggest star was David DeJesus, who broke out of an 0-for-24 slump with a three-hit, three-RBI night, earning him player of the game honors in a postgame celebration that fittingly played Pharrell Williams' Happy.
"It felt good," DeJesus said. "I haven't got a hit in a couple weeks — literally."
The only thing to slow Tampa Bay in front of 11,785 at Tropicana Field was a controversial strikeout by Yunel Escobar — on a 4-2 count — in the fifth.
Umpires used instant replay when plate ump Paul Schrieber lost track of the count. Escobar should have been issued a walk, but after a 1 minute, 47 second review, it was declared a full count, and Escobar struck out on the next pitch. MLB issued a statement that it made an "error" on the review, incorrectly calling a ball a foul.
"The (umpires) looked at video, so I'm thinking I must be seeing things, or imagining," Maddon said, before joking, "We just came off a day off, had a couple Guinnesses (Monday), I don't know, it might have messed me up."
Not even Price's near low-blow in the fourth could mess up his plans to finish what he started, which meant a lot since he came two outs short April 11 in Cincinnati.
"I'm glad he's okay," Mauer said. "But he could have taken the rest of the night off if he needed."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.