08/09/10 11:51 PM ET
Price K's nine Tigers to win No. 15
Lefty sets Tampa Bay single-season record for victories
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The Rays' 24-year-old left-hander established a new single-season club record by recording his 15th win of the season in a 6-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Price had been tied with Edwin Jackson, James Shields and Rolando Arrojo.
"It's awesome, it's cool," said Price of the record. "I mean, it is. I don't plan on stopping here -- getting ready to go in five days. It's a great honor. It's a lot of hard work and it's been fun. But I don't plan on stopping at 15 [wins]."
More important for the Rays was that the win snapped a five-game losing skid, which allowed them to move to within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Yankees in the American League East as New York lost to the Red Sox, 2-1, earlier Monday.
Price fought control problems throughout his outing.
In the second, Carlos Guillen worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on a passed ball before Jhonny Peralta walked. Price recovered by striking out Brandon Inge and Jeff Frazier before surrendering an RBI double to Gerald Laird. He then struck out Austin Jackson swinging to end the inning.
By the time Price began the fifth inning, the Rays led, 4-1, but there were concerns about whether Price could get through one more inning given his elevated pitch count.
Price surrendered an RBI single to Ryan Raburn with no outs in the fifth, which cut the Rays' lead to 4-2 and left Price feeling frustrated. He took out his emotion on the Tigers, finishing out his outing by striking out in order -- Miguel Cabrera, Guillen, and Peralta -- all swinging. On his 115th pitch, which turned out to be his final pitch of the night, Price's fastball registered at 100 mph.
"It's just frustrating," Price said. "I know I'm up there around 100 pitches. If I give them a hit again, I'm done, if I walk somebody, I'm done, if they make an error, I'm done. I have to go after those guys and get them. Just went after them with my heater, make them beat me, and I was lucky to get out of it."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland marveled at Price's outing.
"He was kind of a Catch-22, really, because he was wild enough to be effective where you could get him deep in pitch count, but he also has the ability to throw a ball by people when you get a couple guys on," Leyland said. "He has that ability, so that's a tough situation. It's one of those nights where he threw some bad pitches obviously out of the strike zone and then might put one right on the corner at 96-97 mph. That's pretty tough."
While Price had the kind of electric stuff that left Tigers hitters and their manager in awe, he left the Rays' bullpen in the vulnerable position of having to cover four innings.
Nevertheless, Chad Qualls, Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano managed to get the job done, recording the final 12 outs of the game. Of those performances, Rays manager Joe Maddon cited Qualls' for being the most important.
"The key to the whole victory was Chad Qualls -- he was the key to the whole victory," Maddon said. "He got five outs in some difficult moments against a beefy part of their batting order. If he was unable to do what he did tonight, we could not have pieced that together like we did. So he was kind of like the lynchpin tonight."
Squandered opportunities haunted the Rays' offense from the beginning when they had runners on first and third with no outs in the first inning and did not manage to score any runs.
The frustration continued in the fourth when the Rays loaded the bases with no outs but managed to score just one run on Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly.
The Rays' 4-1 lead had dwindled to 4-3 entering the ninth when John Jaso and Carl Crawford had RBI singles to put the Rays up 6-3.
Maddon tried a new lineup Monday night that put Jaso at leadoff and Ben Zobrist in the second spot with Crawford hitting third. When asked about the change, Crawford stated the obvious when he said: "We won, so it worked out fine."
While Crawford referred to the new batting order, he may as well have been talking about the team as a whole. Monday night's win came with a lot of warts, but winning felt good no matter how ugly it looked.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.