ST. PETERSBURG — Cy Young-winning left-hander David Price admitted he wasn't at his best Tuesday in a 7-4 opening day loss to the Orioles.
Price never felt like he settled in, with manager Joe Maddon saying his fastball didn't have its typical velocity.
But Price battled after giving up a two-run homer in the first inning to Matt Wieters, shutting out the Orioles from there and leaving after the sixth in line for the win.
"You don't just come out here and turn yourself into Cy Young in the first outing," Price said. "I'm fine with the way I threw the ball. I battled. When you don't have your best stuff, that's what you've got to do, and I felt like I did okay" Tuesday.
Price said his lowest velocity month last year — when he went on to win 20 games and start the All-Star Game — was in April, and it's part of the "growing process."
But he was disappointed he put the Rays in an early hole, hanging a changeup to Wieters that led to the two-out, two-run homer. It was the first time Price gave up a first-inning homer since July 20, 2011, to the Yankees' Curtis Granderson.
"That's something I want to stay away from," Price said.
After the homer, Price allowed seven baserunners but stranded them all, including getting Chris Davis to ground into an inning-ending double play in the third.
Maddon didn't know why Price was a "little off," whether he was "overamped" or not, but said his ability to escape and give his team a chance in a 100-pitch outing "is also the sign of an excellent pitcher."
"I just think that the fastball wasn't as spiffy as it normally is, and I think that might've been the difference in the game," Maddon said. "Again, without his best stuff, to get that deep, 3-2 with the lead, I was very pleased with that."
Price, who struck out four and walked two, said he needs to do a better job of getting ahead of hitters than he did Tuesday. He gave credit to the Orioles, saying that "one through nine, they can swing the bat."
Centerfielder Adam Jones, who entered Tuesday 5-for-29 against Price, and Wieters, who was 7-for-27, combined for four of the Orioles' seven hits against him.
"Their approach might have been a little bit different," Maddon said. "And they got him."
But after Wieters drew a 13-pitch walk in the third, Price limited the damage.
"He didn't break," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He kept his team in the game. He got some big outs, some double play balls and things that kept us from breaking the game open a little bit."
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]