ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon thought left-hander David Price had "really good stuff" Friday night in his first opening day start.
Price commanded his fastball well and threw some good curveballs, too, striking out seven and walking one in his seven-inning, 103-pitch outing.
But Price's one walk — as well as a throwing error — came back to bite him. And giving up four runs in a 4-1 loss to the Orioles didn't meet the standards of the reigning Cy Young runnerup.
"I've got to throw better," Price said. "I've got to make better pitches with runners on base. When you throw against the other team's No. 1 (pitcher) and you give up four runs, you're going to lose.
"It's a rough start."
Price began his start with a bang, retiring seven of the first eight hitters, including four consecutive strikeouts. But with one out in the third, J.J. Hardy ripped a double, one of five hits Price allowed. Hardy advanced to third when Price's pickoff throw bounced past shortstop Reid Brignac and into centerfield.
Rays pitchers worked on their pickoff moves throughout spring training with Maddon emphasizing how important it was to limit the opposing team's running game.
"A physical mistake," Maddon said of Price's error.
Price nearly got out of it, striking out Brian Roberts. But Nick Markakis knocked in Hardy with a single to left-center to make it 1-0.
"Those two-out hits are an emotional swing for our ballclub," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Price's lone walk, to Hardy, came with one out and one on in the fifth, and Roberts followed with a two-run triple.
"The walk to Hardy kind of set up the disaster right there," Maddon said.
"Walks score in the big leagues," Price said. "That's part of it."
Maddon liked how Price mixed in his curveball, but the ace said it wasn't consistent enough.
"It was there, and it wasn't," he said. "I've got to get better with it."
With Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie throwing eight scoreless innings, Price had no margin for error.
"I got outpitched," Price said. "That's for sure."