09/22/08 11:59 PM ET
Price flashes brilliance in first start
Former No. 1 pick takes no-hit bid into fifth frame for Rays
By Amanda Comak / MLB.com
For all of the promise Price has shown, rising through the Rays' farm system quickly and efficiently this season, he didn't disappoint in his initiation to the club's starting rotation. The left-hander was nothing short of masterful for the first four innings, allowing just two baserunners -- each reaching on two-out walks and both getting quickly erased one batter later on inning-ending outs.
The debut no-hit bid was broken up in the fifth on a single to left field by Ramon Hernandez, and Price gave up two runs (one earned) in the inning, allowing the Orioles to tie the game and erase his chance for his first Major League win. After allowing two singles to begin the sixth, the rookie phenom's night was finished after 88 pitches and he was sent to the dugout to be congratulated by his teammates.
It was, by all accounts, a strong performance from the 22-year-old who is expected to be a star in the Major Leagues in the near future. And it may have been just that, but for Price -- and the two people who have seen him on a mound more than any other, his parents -- it actually fell a bit shy of expectations.
"Perfect game," Price said when asked what he expected of himself on Monday night. "That's my expectation going into every single game I've ever thrown. That's what I work on, that's why I throw -- to be perfect that one time."
Price's parents, who flew in from Tennessee on Monday morning, knew their son wouldn't be ecstatic with anything less than perfection in his debut.
"I know he's not satisfied," said Price's father, Bonnie, a sentiment his son agreed with after the game. "He left the game giving up two runs, but through four innings he had no-hit baseball. That's baseball. The hits he's given up were more like seeing-eye hits. They were in the right places."
"It's definitely good to see," he conceded, his eyes welling with tears when considering his son's meteoric rise to the Major Leagues. "I don't want to be greedy and selfish, but I would have liked for him to be able to be leaving up two runs, rather than tied 2-2 but it won't kill him, it'll make him stronger and smarter."
Outside of those three, who were arguably the most critical observers, Price lived up to the hype in a big way. Manager Joe Maddon said he was happy with Price's performance, the dominance simply "reaffirming" what he already knew about the left-hander.
"He's got great control," said Hernandez, who finished 1-for-2 against Price. "I think as long as you throw strikes, you're going to be successful no matter where you pitch or what kind of age you have ... and he's going to be pitching for a while if he keeps doing like he did today."
"He's got all the hype behind him, and he's definitely got the stuff with the hype," said Orioles third baseman Aubrey Huff, who flied out to right field, struck out and singled against Price. "He's going to be good."
It was a good way for Price to welcome himself to a starting role in the Major Leagues, but it'd be a misnomer to call it a surprise. Price went 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts at Class A Vero Beach before being promoted to Double-A Montgomery, where he went 7-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Finally, in Triple-A Durham, Price went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in four starts before working to a 1-0 record with a 3.27 ERA in two playoff starts.
"It's thrilling," said Price's mother, Debbie. "To see him do as well as he did, it's a dream come true. You always hope that the first start that he has, he does well, so I'm excited.
"Quite honestly, he's done it through every stage that he's played in, so I think we were kind of expecting it, but it's been nice actually seeing it. He had such a good year in the Minor Leagues that we both said even if he didn't get called up this year, his year was a success."
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.