ST. PETERSBURG — LHP David Price will do something tonight he hasn’t done since August 2011: take that mound after losing consecutive starts.
Price lost both his starts on the recent road trip, the first time he’s lost consecutive starts since he lost three straight between July 20 and Aug. 2, 2011
“I feel good,” Price said. “It just comes down to making pitches. That’s all it is. That’s all it has been all year. … That’s something I haven’t done well my last two starts. It will turn around.”
A three-run homer by A’s No. 9 hitter Kurt Suzuki in the fifth inning helped ruin his night during the first game of the road trip. Against the Angels five days later, Price allowed a season-high 11 hits — all within the first three innings when he gave up six runs.
“He’s throwing the ball great,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s not a thing wrong with the way he’s throwing the baseball. His stuff has been fabulous. I’m just looking for all this to come together at the right time.”
Price said his troubles in Oakland and Anaheim stemmed from not making the right pitch at the right time. Against the Angels it was a hanging changeup to No. 9 hitter Collin Cowgill with the bases loaded that became a three-run, game-changing double in a 6-2 loss.
Price is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts this season against the Red Sox. He beat them twice during the first road trip after the All-Star break. The first of the two wins was his only complete game of the season.
Tough road ahead
The Rays are a combined 41-34 (.574) against the teams remaining on their schedule. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Rangers, Orioles and Yankees are each vying for playoff spots, and Texas is fighting Oakland for the AL West title.
The Rays have 14 games remaining against contenders. So do the Orioles.
The Rangers have 12. The Yankees have 10.
The Indians have six.
The Orioles finish their season against the Red Sox, while the Rays finish with three games in Toronto against the Blue Jays.
No more games in Pacific time zone
Maddon believes much of the Rays’ struggles since August are due to the two trips out West.
They were 0-5 through stops in Arizona and Los Angeles during interleague play and 3-7 during their recent run through Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle. Those were the first trips this season out West and Maddon said it came at a bad time.
“We have been on that side of the world for the whole summer,” he said. “It’s kind of unusual that you wait and then come out here at the very end like we have. This has been an awkward schedule this year. We get thrown out there, these teams are (playing) better. If we could have gone through this 5-5 I would have been really pleased with it … But I do believe once we get back home and back on our regular schedule, I think you’re going to see a better result.”
Longoria nearing 30
Despite his slumps this season and his bout with plantar fasciitis that cut into his midseason production, 3B Evan Longoria is one home run shy of his third 30-home run season.
“Thirty is pretty solid,” Maddon said. “Thirty home runs these days represents some pretty good power. I think that’s outstanding and that’s really with a tough month, month and a half.”
Longoria, who tied Carlos Peña’s team record of four seasons with at least 25 home runs, is four homers shy of catching Peña as the Rays’ all-time home run leader.
Peña hit 163 during his two tours with Tampa Bay.
Not bad for someone who does not consider himself a home run hitter.
“He really works on other things offensively,” Maddon said. “He’s got home run power, no question, and when he gets a ball up in the air it keeps on going, but I like the fact he’s more concerned about being a technician or a better hitter and let the power show up.”
RHP Chris Archer teamed with Good Sports on Monday to donate more than $6,700 of new sports equipment to the Police Athletic League of St. Pete … The Rays are 6-10 against the Red Sox this season but have held Red Sox hitters to a .211 batting average and 3.9 runs per game. The Sox are hitting .285 and averaging 5.4 runs a game against everyone else … Rays starters have completed seven innings only once in the last eight games, and that was by Price on the night he allowed six runs on 11 hits in the first three innings … The Rays have hit into at least one double play in 17 of their last 19 games. Since Aug.7, they have hit into a major league-high 36 double plays.