ST. PETERSBURG — You didn’t need replay to determine that David Price was on top of his game Tuesday night or that dropping David DeJesus down in the order was a good move.
Now, balls and strikes during Yunel Escobar’s fifth-inning at-bat? Might want to check the replay again.
A botched umpire’s review was about the only thing that didn’t work in the Rays’ favor.
Price pitched his first complete game of the season and DeJesus broke out of the longest slump of his career in the Rays’ 7-3 victory against the Minnesota Twins in front of 11,785 fans at Tropicana Field.
“I’ve been close a couple of times this year and to be able to go out there and finish that one, especially after the first guy got on (in the ninth inning), that was big,” Price said.
Price survived a rocky fourth inning that featured a pair of home runs by the Twins sandwiched around a comebacker by Joe Mauer that hit Price in his cup.
“Squared it up,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Rays head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and Maddon ran to check on the ace lefty, but Price was all smiles amid several big sighs of relief.
“That was the best place to hit me,” Price said. “I don’t know how I didn’t really feel it. It didn’t break my cup. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know. It would have been nice if I got him out.”
Price said he was fortunate the ball wasn’t two feet higher, otherwise it might have struck him in his throat or face.
Price, who struck out 12, was more upset with the solo home run to Brian Dozier that ended his perfect game and the two-run homer he allowed to Chris Colabello.
“That probably would be the only thing that could make (the night) all right if I could finish that game,” Price said. “That fourth left a bad taste in my mouth that’s still there. I’ll get better.”
Price had plenty of help from his offense, especially DeJesus, who entered the game hitless in his last 24 at-bats. Dropped to seventh in the order to ease some of the pressure of being looked upon as one of the Rays’ table-setters, DeJesus singled off the right-field wall with the bases loaded in his first at-bat to drive in the third run of the first inning. He singled in two more runs in the third to give the Rays a 5-0 lead.
“Felt good. I haven’t got a hit in a couple of weeks, literally, I think it’s pretty literally,” DeJesus said. “It was going to happen. I’m not trying to press. I got some work with (hitting coach Derek) Shelton before the game, and a tip Joe gave me was use my hands. It worked out, and I gave him a big hug in the eighth inning.”
When asked what he thought of the night by DeJesus, Price said, “After (New York Yankees shortstop-turned-pitcher) Dean Anna got him (to fly out to third base Saturday night) I thought I was going to find him on the Skyway. That was good. That was big for him. That’s definitely going to get him going in the right direction. He’s a big key for us.”
The expanded use of replay came into play in the fifth inning when home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber lost track of the balls and strikes on Escobar. Schrieber had the count at 3-2. The umpires huddled, and Schrieber and crew chief Ted Barrett checked the replay.
The replay should have showed Escobar walked. The count was 2-1 before Escobar took three straight pitches — two of which were called balls.
After reviewing the at-bat, Schreiber and Barrett said the count on the field was correct. Escobar, technically batting during a 4-1 count, looked at the next pitch and was called out.
Major League Baseball issued a statement afterward saying the umpires incorrectly determined a ball during the at-bat as a foul ball.
“The guys just looked at the video and I’m thinking I must be seeing things or imagining,” Maddon said. “We just came off a day off, a couple of Guinnesses, I don’t know? It might have messed me up.”