Price struggled for the second time in as many 2013 starts Sunday, allowing 10 hits and a career-high eight earned runs in five innings of a 13-0 loss to the Indians in front of a crowd of 21,629 at Tropicana Field.
Lumped together with the six-inning, seven-hit battle he had on Opening Day, the bashing by the Indians left Price a little bewildered about the cause of his 0-1 record, his 8.18 ERA and 2.00 WHIP.
“I’m just fighting myself right now,” Price said. “It’s tough. As good as I feel out there on the mound, to go out there and be my own worst enemy, that’s a tough thing.
“I have to get out of my own way and just throw the ball. I mean, I’m just fighting myself right now with my delivery. That’s something I’ll have to work on the next five days leading up to (my next start in) Boston.”
Price might want to work on limiting the big hit and the knockout blow as well. He’s been a master at that throughout his career, but opposing hitters have been connecting with regularity with those punches this year.
Baltimore’s Matt Wieters nailed Price with a no-doubt-about-it two-run homer in the season opener Tuesday, and Mark Reynolds and Lonnie Chisenhall dropped him with three-run homers during Sunday’s setback.
“The turning point was the home run by Reynolds,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the third-inning blast to straightaway center field. “It all kind of went wrong at that particular moment for us.
“I mean, this obviously was not one of our better efforts. David was obviously not sharp and he’s not going to make any excuses about it. It was just one of those days.’’
It was one for the record books. The two three-run homers he gave up made this only the second time in his career that Price has allowed two home runs with runners on base in the same game.
And the five extra-base hits he gave up (Michael Bourn, Ryan Raburn and Carlos Santana doubled off him) allowed the Indians to match a career high first set in July 2009 and not reached since August 2009.
Still, Maddon expressed no concern about a pitcher whose ability to make hitters swing and miss has dropped more than seven percent, from the 21.4 percent mark he established a year ago to the 14.1 percent mark he has this year.
“Just throw this one in the garbage can,’’ Maddon said. “There was another (2012) Cy Young Award winner (R.A. Dickey) who had a hard time today as well (surrendering 10 hits and eight runs in 42/3 innings).
“I mean, it’s really incredible what’s going on. But the positive takeaway is that we won two out of three (against the Indians). Any time you win a series you have to be happy with that.
“Still, you would have thought we were in a pretty good position going in to go three out of three with what was going on pitching wise for us. It just did not want to happen and that’s the beauty of our game.’’
There wasn’t much beauty to behold in this one. The Rays bullpen got rocked as well, allowing seven hits and five runs in four innings, including the three hits and two runs allowed by closer Fernando Rodney.
Even the bats, which had come to life in the first two games of the series, producing 16 hits and 10 runs, turned ugly against Indians starter Justin Masterson.
Masterson, who improved to 2-0, gave up just two hits, both to Ben Zobrist, and while he walked three, he struck out eight, including one at what was a key moment for the Rays.
After Zobrist’s first hit and walks to Evan Longoria and James Loney loaded the bases for the Rays with two outs in the bottom of the first, Masterson got Yunel Escobar to fish for a slider that ended the threat.
The Rays wouldn’t mount another threat of any kind until the ninth, but by then the damage done by Reynolds and Chisenhall already had forced the Rays — Price included — to begin looking forward to their first road trip.
“I’ve already forgotten about it,’’ Price said of Sunday’s outing. “I mean, it’s just one of those things. You have to find whatever it is that clicks and just stick with it.
“It took me a couple of starts to get going last year as well. This just wasn’t very good, so just need to keep working hard, because it’s not due to a lack of work. It’s just that it’s a very tough game and they put it to us today.’’