ST. PETERSBURG — Say this for the Rays batters — and maybe for the entire ballclub at this early stage of the season — it felt like they hit something Thursday night against the Yankees.
After watching ace David Price get ambushed for four runs and three extra-base hits in the first 11 batters, the Rays then did something that crystallized their recent struggles when Sean Rodriguez hit into an around-the-horn triple play.
That one swing against lefty CC Sabathia seemed to be the lowlight in a 10-2 loss in the series opener before 28,085 at Tropicana Field. The Rays (7-9) lost their fourth straight.
Considering the deteriorating state of the starting pitching, the performance by Price might have stung the most.
Needing their ace to continue to anchor a Rays staff that has lost three starting pitchers to the disabled list, Price lasted five innings and was battered for six runs and 10 hits — six for extra bases, including back-to-back home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Brian McCann.
"This is one start," Price said. "I know you guys blow it up to be a lot more than it really is. Everybody is going to have their bad days. I had mine. We didn't have a particularly good day as a team today. So be it."
Of course, the Rays' slumber with the lumber has been as much a story as their pitching woes. Heading into Thursday, the Rays had scored only 14 runs in their previous nine games.
Trailing 4-0, they looked like they had a shot to break out in the second inning after Evan Longoria led off with a double and Wil Myers walked.
But Rodriguez hit into a 5-4-3 triple play. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte fielded the ground ball, stepped on the base and fired to second baseman Brian Roberts, forcing Myers. Roberts then relayed the ball to Scott Sizemore to get Rodriguez at first.
"Hit it more to the left, it's foul. Hit it to the right more, it's right at him for at least maybe a double play and not a triple play," Rodriguez said. "I hit it hard in a perfect spot for him to step and throw. Yeah, it hurt a lot."
It was the Yankees' third triple play since 2010, all in April with Sabathia pitching. Rodriguez also hit into a triple play at Boston in August 2011.
Rodriguez blasted a long home run to left to lead off the seventh against Sabathia, who allowed seven hits over seven innings and one earned run.
"It was meaningless," Rodriguez said of his second home run of the season. "I wish I had hit that in my first at-bat."
At the very least, the Rays needed Price to go deep into the game to spare their bullpen, especially with Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos scheduled to start two of the next three games against the Yankees.
All told, the Yankees banged out 16 hits.
"When you have all these kinds of adverse moments, like triple plays and line drives being caught, all that stuff, and then your best pitcher having a bad night, it just happens sometimes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When you start lamenting it or crying about it or feeling sorry for yourself, that's when it gets more profound."