Speaking of his left-handed ace, David Price, Joe Maddon summed it up best in his post-game interview when he said “David just wasn’t on tonight.” Oh he sure looked like David Price. He threw hard like David Price, but he did not pitch like David Price.
In the fourth shortest outing of his career, the lefty allowed five earned runs on career-high 12 hits in just 4.1 innings. He struck out four batters and walked just one. Despite less than five innings of work, he faced 24 batters and threw 98 pitches.
There was nothing special about the Angels’ approach or any glaring flaw in Price’s game. He did leave some balls over the plate, but Los Angeles simply hit the pitches he gave them. As has been the case in most of his starts, he worked the outside corner to the right-handed batters in the lineup; however, the Angels were able to put the bat on the ball and hit it where fielders were not. That doesn’t sound very “process” oriented, but in this case, the results are what they are.
Looking back on the game, Price was not even hit hard. Sure, the two-run home run by Mark Trumbo was well struck. There was also the double to right-center field by Howie Kendrick; however the other 10 hits allowed by Price were all singles. For a pitcher of his caliber, you simply tip your cap to the other side and “go get’em” next time.
After falling behind 1-0, the Rays offense would come back to give Price an early lead. Casey Kotchman put Tampa Bay on the board with an RBI double in the second inning. Kotchman is on a Sam Fuld-like streak at the plate. He is known for hitting groundballs, but in recent days has been spraying line drives all over the field. Regardless what your preference of first basemen is, Kotchman hitting line drives is a good thing for the Rays and that’s all that matters right now.
Also continuing to swing a hit stick is Matt Joyce. Before his ejection in the sixth inning, Joyce (finally) hit his first home run of the season – a three run shot in the bottom of the third. On the other end of the streak spectrum, Johnny Damon’s 16-game hit streak ended with an 0-5 night. Sam Fuld also went 0-5, but did reach base on a walk. Even if Fuld regresses and becomes a .280 hitter, his ability to take a walk should continue to provide offensive value in conjunction with what he can on the bases. I can’t stress this enough.
The well-rested bullpen got some work in tonight with Price’s early exit. Maddon used five relievers to finish the final 4.2 innings. Juan Cruz came into the game with the bases loaded and one out in a 5-4 game. Not known for his groundball ability, the veteran induced an inning-ending double play. Had the Rays comeback to win the game, this would have likely been the “game-changing” moment.
On the other hand, the Rays’ trio of young relievers: Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, and Jake McGee were not so sharp. They combined to throw 2.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits and three walks. They registered just one strikeout total despite facing 15 batters.
Coming off a 5-1 road trip, it would have been nice to get the home stand started with a W; especially with the ace of the staff on the mound. But after sweeping a day/night double header and arriving in town around 4 a.m., this loss does not sting as much. That said, a strong outing from James Shields would be greatly appreciated.