Price Survives, Rays Thrive Late | The Process Report

Price Survives, Rays Thrive Late

Price fought an uphill battle all night with his command, pitch selection, his velocity, and even his health. The same flu bug that took Wil Myers out of the lineup the other day made its way over to David Price who never looked in sync during the contest. The last time we saw Price take the mound against the Rangers, he went the distance scattering seven hits while allowing two runs. That night, Price sequenced his pitches well, threw 69 percent of them for strikes, and threw 52 of his 118 pitches at least 94 mph.

None of those things happened tonight.

Teammates said after the game it was touch and go that Price would even take the mound before he headed out to the field to begin his warm-umps, and it showed. He touched 94 a handful of times on the radar gun while working mostly 90-92 on the night. The high-contact abilities of the Texas Rangers lineup forced Price into many deep counts and they were able to make him pay for his mistakes. Price struggled commanding his cutter tonight early; whereas he normally knocks on the front and back doors with it, it cut back across the plate and the Rangers put it in play three times leading to their first two runs.

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The fact Price was able to go six innings despite the health issues and save the bullpen is a win in and of itself. Had the team been forced to use Ramos in an emergency start and use a committee starter approach, the team would have been in a bind with just one off day in the next 15 days. That kind of game would have likely necessitated a call-up fro Durham which would have possibly required Brandon Gomes or Logan Forsythe to be optioned to call up a fresh arm for the pen. As it was, the pen came in and did stellar work for the final three innings.

The game-changing moment came in the bottom of the 8th inning once Ron Washington brought Neal Cotts on to pitch. The lefty is a rare reverse splits who had limited righties to a .155/.235/.204 slash line over 116 plate appearances since returning to the major leagues last season. Cotts tied up Wil Myers on several pitches that Myers was able to spoil off but lost him after an eight-pitch at bat. Following a Zobrist sacrifice bunt, Washington called for Cotts to intentionally walk Evan Longoria after Cotts fell behind 1-0 in order to face James Loney.

Loney had struck the ball well all night and the intentional walk to Longoria took the platoon advantage away from Cotts. Maddon stuck with Loney because of the platoon splits and the confidence in his first baseman to put the ball in play. Cotts’s repertoire is fastball/slider/cutter – three pitches that all do not come in toward the lefty. Unlike most lefty/lefty matchups, Cotts’s repertoire gives lefties a fighting chance, especially lefties willing to take pitches on the outer part of the plate the other way, such as Loney.

Loney did just that taking an elevated fastball the other way over the head of Shin-Soo Choo to knock in the tying and go-ahead run.

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The series finale brings a dandy matchup with Alex Cobb squaring off against Yu Darvish as he makes his 2014 debut before the team embarks on a 10-day, 9-game road trip.



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