BOSTON — Of all the different ways to put into perspective what the Rays' pitchers accomplished during a three-game series against the Red Sox this week, the most telling would be this:
In the 100 seasons the Red Sox have played at Fenway Park, they had never been shut down like this.
In three consecutive games, capped by Wednesday's 4-0 win, the Rays held the Sox to no more than three hits.
"I don't think anybody would ever say they would think they could come in here and do that," Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "And I also don't think if I'm here another 10 years we could come in here and do that again.
"Obviously, it's quite an accomplishment."
David Price came up one inning short of matching the complete games thrown by James Shields and Jeff Niemann in Tuesday's split doubleheader that the Rays split. But with the zero he had in the runs column, preserved by Kyle Farnsworth in the bullpen's one inning of work, it wasn't like Price was going to be relegated to the back of the plane as the Rays headed home after a 3-2 trip.
"Eight with no runs — he can sit where the heck he wants to sit," Shields said. "He can take my seat."
Price — who put on Twitter earlier in the week, "I love pitching in Boston!!!" — would have had a chance for a complete game, but an extended eighth inning ran his pitch count to 116, and even as stubborn as he is, he understood being pulled.
"That would have been nice to get the first (complete game) of the year after those two guys both did it," Price said. "But there's no negative about this game."
Unless you were in white, of course. "Price is pretty good," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "A lot of velocity, movement, (a) changeup. A lot to not like if you're in our uniform."
Carl Crawford knows better than any of the Red Sox what the Rays' pitchers are capable of, having spent nine seasons in Tampa Bay. Seeing it from the plate — and going 0-for-9 in the series — was a less enjoyable perspective.
"It's tough to generate offense when they have three guys coming in pitching as well as they did this series," Crawford said. "They have good starting pitching over there; that's what keeps that organization going. … They have some horses over there, and they take a lot of pride, especially when they play against Boston."
In 11 games against the Sox this season, six of them wins, the Rays have held Boston batters to a .168 average; the Sox are hitting .287 against the rest of the league. In this series, the Sox were 9-for-86 (.106) and scored five runs.
That the Rays won only two of the three games was the latest illustration of the deficiencies in their offense. Even in victory Wednesday they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and they hit two more solo homers, by B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria.
And that's why it remains unlikely they can get back in the race for a playoff spot, standing 66-56, eight behind the Sox for the wild card, 9½ from the first-place Yankees in the American League East with 40 games left.
But after getting pitching that good against a team of Boston's offensive caliber — albeit without injured David Ortiz — manager Joe Maddon made a solid case for optimism.
"Absolutely, the possibility of a really good run is there because of that," he said. "I know leaving this place today, our guys know that we can beat the Red Sox, and we know we can beat the Yankees. And vice versa, they know that, too. So now it's up to us to go out there and prove that we belong in the playoffs again this year. … It's not an easy shot, but believe me, I'm not giving up, and I believe our players aren't giving up, either."
Not at all, Price said.
"We feel like we can climb back into this thing," he said. "If we continue to throw the ball like we did, play defense and swing like we did on this road trip, we'll be all right."