BOSTON — In the first inning of what would become their own Boston marathon on Thursday, Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey asked manager Kevin Cash what their win probability was being down 5-1 to their former ace, David Price.
There was no need for the front office execs on the trip to fire up their laptops or iPads for this one as simple math would suffice:
Not very darn good.
But in one of the more frustrating, inspiring, depressing and ultimately satisfying days the Rays have had at rickety old Fenway Park, they walked out cherishing a 12-8 victory.
"That was one of those games if you don't win, it's a game that has the potential to set you back a couple days," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "A 4-hour and 20-minute nine-inning game, an emotional roller coaster the whole way. That's a good win."
Actually, it was more than that. In a season where little has gone as planned, given how the supposedly improved offense has been pretty much a bust, and the ace starter hasn't won a game, the Rays are showing the guts and determination, which could carry them where the talent may be lacking.
Three times in their first seven games they came back to win after trailing in the seventh inning or later. Then Thursday, in improving to 7-8, they roared back to chase Price with a six-run fourth on their way to an 8-5 lead, watched their bullpen fritter it away, rallied again in the eighth, then added on and hung on in the ninth.
"That was a resilient win," Cash said, his voice hoarse from all the discussions that went into myriad decisions.
"Very resilient,' said catcher Curt Casali, who continued to batter his old Vanderbilt buddy Price. "We were put in a pretty big hole to start that game. And the bats may have given up and said, 'All right, let's get 'em tomorrow.' But to the credit of this team, we bounced back and quickly. That one inning where we put six up, that's huge. We don't normally do stuff like that. Twelve runs is kind of rare for us.
"But it just goes to show the capability we have and the belief."
There was little reason for hope the way they started, Jake Odorizzi allowing hits to six of the first seven Red Sox, and a harder-hit out by David Ortiz, in what ended up a five-run, 37-pitch mess of a first inning.
But they tilted the game back their way in the six-run, 10-batter fourth, with some familiar faces taking their swings at Price.
One was Casali, who launched a two-run homer and in eight at-bats against Price, whom he met during his recruiting visit, now has five hits, including three homers, and five RBIs.
"I don't know if it's just coincidence; I see him okay," Casali said. "I honestly wish it was somebody else, just because I like him a lot."
Another was Longoria, his close friend as they became pillars of the Rays' transformation to contenders starting in 2008. Hitless in his first 10 at-bats against Price, Longoria hit a solo home run in the third and then lashed a double in the fourth that scored two more.
"Finally to get a hit off him," Longoria said. "He had pretty much owned me."
A Desmond Jennings RBI double ended Price's day, and a Steven Souza Jr. double off reliever Matt Barnes pushed the tally to eight earned runs.
Price, now 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts against the Rays since being traded July 31, 2014, said his frustration went well beyond facing his former team.
"That's not fun. I know I'm better than that," Price said. "That's the best I've felt my four starts here.
"To me that's the most disappointing thing."
The Rays took an 8-5 lead into the sixth when Cash made what turned out to be a very bad decision, lifting blazing rookie Enny Romero, who had gotten five outs (on 20 pitches), for Danny Farquhar, who gave up a two-run homer to Mookie Betts.
Cash turned to usually dependable Xavier Cedeno in the seventh, and he allowed doubles to lefties Ortiz and Travis Shaw that tied it at 8.
But Every Day Erasmo Ramirez, who was slated to start Saturday, came in to quell any further rally, working 11/3 innings for his American League co-leading fourth win.
And the Rays hitters had more resiliency in them. Souza doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the eighth, and a two-run pinch-hit double by Corey Dickerson highlighted a three-run exhale of a ninth.
"We had just enough good moments in that game to come out on top," Longoria said.
And that showed a lot.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.