Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Price much improved from last outing

BOSTON — The good news in Saturday's frustrating 2-1 defeat to the Red Sox was an improved outing by ace LHP David Price.

Coming off an eight-run, 10-hit debacle vs. Cleveland last Sunday, Price looked much more like himself Saturday, allowing only one run — on a David Ross home run — on four hits and striking out eight over six innings for the Rays.

"I felt a lot better," Price said.

But Price acknowledged he still has work to do. He lasted only six innings because he threw 106 pitches, and in five of his six innings, he allowed a hit or a walk with two outs, including Ross' tying homer on a full-count change­up in the fifth.

"Like I've said before, six innings over here just isn't enough," Price said.

Manager Joe Maddon noted a slight increase in Price's velocity and overall improvement.

"Everything was a little bit sharper today, I thought," Maddon said. "He pitched more of an aggressive game."

UNHAPPY ENDING: C Jose Lobaton, a 10th-inning replacement after Jose Molina was pinch-run for, had no explanation for his errant throw that ticked off SS Yunel Escobar's glove, allowing Jacoby Ellsbury, who was stealing after a one-out single off RHP Brandon Gomes, to advance to third.

"Bad throw," Lobaton said. "Great effort by (Escobar). This is a hard time for me."

The Rays switched to a five-man infield, and Gomes got the ground ball he wanted from Shane Victorino, but it was well-placed, and Escobar had no chance to make a play at the plate. Ellsbury scored the winning run.

"It was in the perfect spot, and there's not much you can do about it right there," Gomes said.

I AM THIRD: Maddon said he will hit 3B Evan Longoria third against left-handed starters but keep him in the fourth spot against right-handers. Maddon is trying to balance creating RBI opportunities in front of Longoria and providing protection behind him, too, so he gets better pitches to hit, and the Rays have more depth against right-handers. Longoria is hitting .313, but all 10 of his hits are singles. This is the deepest he has gone into a season without an extra-base hit.

COBBLED TOGETHER: With his scheduled Friday start rained out and Price pitching as scheduled Saturday, RHP Alex Cobb takes the mound today with seven days' rest — three more than usual — since his last outing. Cobb said he has grown accustomed to such disruptions. "I think I've kind of conquered that little battle," Cobb said. "As pitchers, we like to have our routines, but for the last couple years I've had to be able to adjust those routines on the fly."

MISCELLANY: Sixty-one percent of the runs the Rays have allowed (28 of 46) have come with two outs. … DH Luke Scott was limited to light running due to the cold weather — 44 degrees at first pitch — and will try again today to advance his rehabilitation from a calf strain to running the bases. … A very cordial Pat Burrell was at Fenway Park scouting his former Rays team, and the Red Sox, for the Giants. … The Rays all will wear No. 42 on Monday in Boston and again Tuesday in Baltimore as part of the MLB-wide Jackie Robinson Day celebrations.

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