On a night when the 2011 MLB draft dominated the news cycle, it was easy to forget the Rays had a game to play on Monday night. Also add in the fact that the team was without B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria – both sitting with a stomach bug. That said, the rag tag lineup – which included Casey Kotchman batting cleanup and John Jaso behind him – pushed across five runs on nine hits in a 5-1 victory over the Angels.
Filling in for Upton, Justin Ruggiano started in centerfield. Facing a right-handed pitcher in Tyler Chatwood, Ruggiano went 2-4 with a home run and three RBI. Also pitching in were a pair of struggling left-handed batters. Batting in that fifth spot, John Jaso went 2-4 while Reid Brignac had a potential slump-busting, three-hit night at the bottom of the lineup.
The Rays offense did not have to do much work with David Price on the mound. The top pick in the 2007 draft, Price went seven innings allowing one run on five hits. He struck out seven batters and did not issue a walk. In 91.1 innings of work this season, the left-hander has struck out 83 batters while walking just 14 – including one intentionally.
Price has relied heavily on his fastball; however, he showed a more balanced approach than some of his previous starts. In addition to the heater, he threw 20 curveballs, 16 sliders, and 12 changeups according to pitch f/x. Price did not have his best swing and miss stuff; however, he possessed fantastic control of his secondary pitches. He threw 48 non-fastballs with 41 of them going for a strike (85%).
While James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson have been pitching backwards all season, Price joined the pitching 2.0 parade tonight. Price did not quite have a Shields-like approach; meanwhile, 11 of his first pitches were something other than a fastball. Of those 11 pitches, seven went for called strikes to start an at-bat.
After a rough few days, the Rays bullpen had a quiet evening in Anaheim. Cesar Ramos tossed a scoreless eighth inning while Kyle Farnsworth closed the door in a non-save situation. It marked the 21st time Farnsworth has finished a game this season. That number could be significant when you consider he has contract bonuses based on games finished.