Sunday, April 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' David Price reestablishes his dominance

ST. PETERSBURG — Already, the doubts had turned to whispers. Soon, the whispers would turn to moans. Eventually, those moans were going to turn into full-blown derision.

When a career seems to be going the wrong way, this is its soundtrack. One day, the talk was that David Price was promised tomorrow, and everyone agreed he was on his way to being another CC Sabathia. The next, he was yesterday's news, and he seemed to be stumbling down the Scott Kazmir career track.

As quick as a raised eyebrow, it seemed, Price had been marked down to half-price.

Then came Tuesday night, when a young pitcher restaked his claim as a one of the finest in the game.

For the Rays, it is difficult to imagine a finer sight than Price looking the way he used to look. He was explosive again. He was efficient again. He was there until the end again.

To sum it up, Price was dominant again in Tuesday night's five-hit shutout over the Angels, and it has been far too long since anyone suggested that of him.

Yeah, this is how he used to look — explosive and efficient, blistering and baffling. Once again, Price was in command of the game, of his fastball, of the altered perceptions of his place in the game.

"I needed that," Price said. "I needed to get that feeling back. It gets old coming out in the sixth inning."

As the words left Price's lips, you could imagine fans across Tampa Bay shouting, "Amen." In his three previous starts this season, Price had been pulled once in the seventh, once in the sixth and once after three innings.

The result was that unsettled feeling that Price was underachieving. After all, he was second in the Cy Young Award voting only two years ago. How could he have been only 12-13 last year? How had he been less than dominant this year?

Granted, that has been the cause of much of the grumbling about Price. He was so good so fast that, by now, some expected him to be unhittable. Finish second in the Cy Young voting and people tend to expect dominance every year.

Remember what a ball of fun Price was two years ago? Remember how good he was in the big moments? Remember how he etched the initials of former teammate Tyler Morrissey (who was killed in a car crash) on his glove? Perhaps it means something, but Tuesday was the four-year anniversary of Morrissey's death.

For the record, Price was aware of it, too. He talked to the Morrissey family before the start. Again. As he often does, he used Morrissey's memory as motivation. Again.

In other words, yeah, he's the same guy.

After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon studied the Rays statistics and shook his head.

"He's 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA," Maddon said. "People have been, like, kind of criticizing him a little bit. Those are pretty good numbers right there. When you're that good, there are a lot of high expectations attached to that kind of skill level. A guy like that has a kind of a speed bump, and it's exaggerated a little bit."

Maybe. But Price is also as talented as any pitcher on the staff, and it's hard to imagine the Rays making a run at the postseason if he struggles. When a pitcher gets off to a slow start after an unsatisfying year, people are bound to notice.

"Absolutely, it's out there," Price said. "That's in all sports. Everyone has critics. But I'm my own worst critic, so it didn't bother me."

Tuesday night, nothing seemed to bother Price, least of all the Angels. Maddon has suggested before that Price was still learning which of his pitches to use when, but for a night, he seemed to have figured it out.

Even more important, Price didn't waste a lot this time. In his first three starts, Price would struggle through innings throwing 29-30 pitches. This time, he didn't throw more than 18 in any one inning, and he had six innings in which he threw 14 or fewer.

In all, it was a start that suggests a restart. If Price keeps pitching like this, yes, the Rays can contend. If Price keeps pitching like this, yes, the Cy Young voters may remember his name.

As for Price, yes, his expectations are as high as they have ever been.

"I don't see why they wouldn't be," he said. "I'm throwing the ball just fine."

Fine, he said. Finally, some might add.

Comments
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays on Sunday: 1:10 vs. Twins

Rays on Sunday: 1:10 vs. Twins

Sunday vs. Twins1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $20-$300; available at Tropicana Field box office, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of game.Promotion: Mascot socks for kids 14 a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkinís takeaways from Raysí 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkinís takeaways from Raysí 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

ST. PETERSBURG – Let's be clear here, the Rays still have a long way to go, and a lot of ground to make up.But seeing them play like they did Saturday in beating the Twins 10-1, putting on a solid all-around show in cobbling their first three-g...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays will go forth with four starters

Rays will go forth with four starters

ST. PETERSBURG — Three weeks was enough for the Rays to officially ditch their three-man rotation plan.Starting Sunday, they will go forth with Yonny Chirinos as their fourth starter.Which is a five-star idea.The flaws in the three-man plan ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, with a familiar look

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, with a familiar look

UPDATE, 4:17: CF Kevin Kiermaier was back at the Trop, and at one point on the field with a glove on his left hand and protective wrapping on his right, the day after surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right thumb. He said the surgery went "as good ...
Published: 04/21/18
Rays will go forth with Chirinos as fourth starter

Rays will go forth with Chirinos as fourth starter

The Rays have made it official – or as official as things can be with them – in naming RHP Yonny Chirinos as the fourth starter in their rotation.The Rays had been using three, and two "Bullpen Day" slots when playing five straight days.B...
Published: 04/21/18
Archerís sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archerís sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Published: 04/21/18
Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

HARTFORD, Conn. — Craig Breslow is 37 years old, with a dozen years of experience as a left-handed reliever in the major leagues. He is pitching now for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, just getting to know his teammates. In their openin...
Published: 04/21/18