Price not quite right: Rays fall in rematch
Backed by miscues, starter hit hard; Bartlett notches RBI
ST. PETERSBURG -- Father Time marched on Tuesday night, and all the Rays could do was scratch their heads and wonder how 46-year-old junkballing lefty Jamie Moyer could upstage a 23-year-old fireballing lefty in David Price and make it look so simple.
"You're looking at Jamie, who's been around, throwing 80 mph, carving us up," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And then you've got the young left-hander who's throwing 93 to 94 [mph] and having a hard time. Baseball's a beautiful game.
"It also speaks to experience and savvy and all those other items that Jamie has in his back pocket right now. It's also good for David to see if you make good pitches, you can get guys out."
A highly anticipated World Series rematch between the Phillies and Rays never materialized into much of a game, as Philadelphia took a six-run lead in the first en route to a 10-1 win in the first game of a three-game series at Tropicana Field with 19,608 watching.
In defeat, Tampa Bay (37-35) saw its five-game home winning streak snapped and fell seven games back of Boston in the American League East.
Moyer, who threw his first professional pitch during President Ronald Reagan's first term in office, started for the Phillies and had the Rays off kilter all night, as he pounded all corners of the strike zone with pitches ranging in speed from 66 to 82 mph. The crafty veteran mowed through Tampa Bay's youthful order unscathed after three innings, using just 40 pitches to hold the Rays scoreless.
"I've seen it happen where a team gives up four, five, six runs early in a game and the team lays down and it's the seventh or eighth inning and it's 6-5," Moyer said. "The key is to put up as many zeros behind that six that you can."
Moyer practiced what he preached by putting up zeros in five of the six innings he pitched. He allowed only one run in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Jason Bartlett. By then, the game's outcome had more than been decided, and the run merely cut the Phillies' lead to nine runs.
"You spot him with that many runs, and it makes it even better for him because he knows what to do," Maddon said.
Moyer scattered five hits and allowed three walks while striking out four on the evening to pick up his fifth win of the season and career win No. 251.
"You know what you've got going into the game [against Moyer]," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "He throws it just a little bit below hitting speed, and that's just something you have to plan for. I think he was pretty much vintage Jamie Moyer tonight. He made the pitches when he needed to. And he just kept us off-balance."
Price, who had not celebrated his first birthday by the time Moyer reached the Major Leagues with the Cubs in 1986, got off to a nightmare start despite showcasing a mid-90s fastball and an electric slider. Phillies hitters found the hard stuff to their liking. Chase Utley doubled home two and Ryan Howard doubled home another before John Mayberry hit a three-run homer to put an exclamation point on the first inning by giving Philadelphia a 6-0 lead. Not only did Price trail by a significant margin by the time he had recorded three outs, he had one leg in a hole after having to use up 40 pitches in the inning.
If the Phillies weren't already hitting well enough, sloppy defense by the Rays furthered their cause in the fourth inning. Gold Glove first baseman Carlos Pena could not come up with Longoria's throw after Longoria fielded Mayberry's grounder. Chris Coste then singled to center and B.J. Upton had trouble picking up the ball, allowing both runners to move into scoring position. Carlos Ruiz's groundout to second scored Mayberry, and one out later Shane Victorino singled home Coste. Utley finished the scoring with a two-run homer to right field to put Philadelphia up, 10-0.
"I put that one on me," Price said. "They're a good-hitting team, and that's what they do when you make an average pitch. They hit it to the wall or they hit it out.
"That's the best I've felt all year. ... I thought my stuff was the best, and I got hit around. I was around the zone. It's a tough way to go out, putting up six in the first. That's ridiculous."
While Tuesday night's loss -- and the fashion in which the Rays took it -- was tough to swallow, Maddon looked ahead.
"It's also the kind of game you put in the trash compactor very quickly and move on to the next one," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.