The last time LHP David Price pitched at U.S. Cellular Field, it was September and he picked up his 20th win in a season capped by winning the American League Cy Young Award.
He'll take that same mound this afternoon for his sixth start of this season, still looking for his first win.
He, obviously, would welcome the coincidence.
"That would be fine with me," he said. "I'd love for it to happen that way."
Price feels he has pitched better than his 0-2, 5.52 record shows, especially as well as he threw against the Yankees on Tuesday, working into the ninth. He apologized for his abrupt postgame interview, saying he was frustrated with himself, not the media, and acknowledged he has sought counsel from former teammate RHP James Shields, now with the Royals, to handle what he called "very trying" times.
"I guess, in a sense, it is humbling," Price said. "This is a very tough game. ... It's very tough. You can get beat by any team at any time. You've just got to go out there and continue to get your work in. This isn't due to a lack of hard work or a lack of preparation. I want to start having good results on the field. I want to have ground balls go at people. I gave up hard-hit balls all year last year, they just so happened to go at people. That's not happening right now. Even the soft-hit balls aren't going at people."
But he also said he knew it wouldn't be easy.
"I didn't think I was going to go out there and people were just going to bow down because I won the Cy Young last year or anything like that," he said. "That probably makes it a little bit tougher whenever you do win an award like that. It's not like I snuck up on people or anything like that, but just having that piece of hardware that 74 other pitchers want to have on their mantelpiece as well, it's tough. But we'll get through it."
Manager Joe Maddon said he has no concerns about Price since he is healthy and working just as hard as he had. "I know, and I'm very comfortable saying, that he's going to be really good record-wise by the end of the season," Maddon said. "The numbers are going to be there, it's just been a very difficult start."
LOOK MA, NO HANDS: The game had a chance to be historic as the Rays went into the ninth before recording an assist. There had been only four games in major-league history in which a team played nine innings in the field without an assist, last by the Reds on Aug. 20, 1997, against the Rockies.
MOLINA OUT: C Jose Molina left with a right quad contusion after being hit by a pitch in the fourth. Maddon said the Rays "think he's fine,'' that it hit muscle and not bone, and though he will be sore and stiff and unlikely to play today (Jose Lobaton was going to start anyway), it's "nothing horrible."
ESCOBAR UPDATE: SS Yunel Escobar's tight right hamstring continues to feel better, but it now sounds as if the team will wait through Monday's off day before letting him back in the lineup. "There's a shot that it may turn out that way," Maddon said. "It's kind of going away little by little. I don't want to press it right now and then have any kind of setback."
REHAB REPORT: DH Luke Scott was back in the lineup for advanced Class A Charlotte, going 1-for-4 with an RBI single, continuing his rehab assignment after leaving Friday's game when he was hit by a pitch. Scott, out since late March with a right calf strain, is scheduled to play again for the Stone Crabs then be re-evaluated with hopes of rejoining the Rays on Tuesday.
MISCELLANY: Rays pitchers recorded a season-high 14 strikeouts. ... The Rays have homered in 13 straight games, two shy of the team record. ... Price will visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City on Tuesday to get the 2012 Wilbur "Bullet" Rogan Award as the AL's top 2012 pitcher, and he will present a $5,000 donation from the Rays. ... Top OF prospect Wil Myers went 0-for-4, ending his streak of reaching base at 19 games for Triple-A Durham.