Tampa Bay Rays
This was the Price the Rays need to contend
ST. PETERSBURG - David Price hopped aboard Tuesday night. He made a complete ace of himself against the Angels in the Tampa Bay Rays' 5-0 win. This was the Price who won 19 games two seasons ago, the Price who finished second in the AL Cy Young voting, who threw down against New York and Boston, pitching big in the big games. This wasn't the Price who came up empty last season in 162, but was saved in the end, only to come up empty again in the postseason.Tuesday was the Price the Rays need to be the team to beat in the AL East. He threw the second shutout of his career Tuesday: nine innings, five singles, six strikeouts, one walk. With two outs in the ninth, Price was one more base runner away from being lifted, but Rays manager Joe Maddon left Price in there to finish what he started, and he did, getting Mark Trumbo to fly out. "I needed that," Price said. He ran into few problems, including any from 0-for-4 Albert Pujols, who continues to beg the $240 million question: Will this dude ever hit another home run? The Rays, all by their lonesome, hit four of them Tuesday. Hey, Albert, you see, after you hit it, it's a series of left-hand turns … But this was Price's night, and the Rays will needs lots of them this season. What was an inconsistent to 2012 is now 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA. He had it going on Tuesday. "He was a strike thrower with all of his pitches," Maddon said. "He pretty much broke out the kitchen sink." "He was tremendous tonight," Rays pitcher James Shields said. "I didn't think he had the fastball he normally has, but he was locating as good as I've ever seen him." This is the kind of Price the Rays need, none of that five-, six-innings stuff, and he wanted that shutout badly, all the way. "I just needed that long outing to get that feeling back," he said. "I think it was important to permit him to try to do that," Maddon said of Price finishing. "Developmentally, I thought it was a big moment for him. It could really carry over for him through the rest of the season as well as the rest of the pitching staff. We're starting to right ourselves, so I think there's some momentum to be gained from this." True, the Rays hit those four solo homers Tuesday, but this season will be about starting pitching and defense - and starting pitching. Maybe the Rays' staff is starting to stretch it out. Maybe we're getting an idea of what it can be. The Rays have won five of their six games, and in the five wins, the starters have thrown to a 1.90 ERA. Shields is 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA. Jeremy Hellickson, who goes tonight, is 2-0. Jeff Niemann got his first win last Sunday. Now if only whiz kid Matt Moore can dial it in. "We feed off each other," Shields said. Shields had set the bar with his early brilliance. Maybe Price kicked the feeding frenzy into high gear Tuesday. He looked all there and then some. He looked like that David Price. He needed that. So did the Rays.