Maybe it was angst he felt from seeing his good friend traded a day earlier. Maybe it was knowing how much his team needed a pick-me-up win after two demoralizing losses.
Or maybe David Price merely became bound and determined to finally win on the road.
Whatever the case, the Rays' prized rookie pitched one of his best major-league games Saturday, shutting down the Central Division-leading Tigers in a 3-1 victory that evened the four-game series at one game apiece.
In the process, Price (7-6) provided some timely validation for a front office that cited the depth of its pitching talent in trading two-time All-Star Scott Kazmir in the midst of a pennant race.
"We needed that," Price said after winning for the first time in eight road starts. "The team had been a little shocked over whatever emotions were running through after (Friday) with Kazmir getting traded. It was big for us, big for the team."
Price and Kazmir, both lefthanders, became fast friends this year and were often together. When reports surfaced Friday that a trade was in the works, Price seemed as dazed as Kazmir.
The two played catch before the Tigers beat the Rays 6-2 on Friday. Afterward, the Rays announced that Kazmir had been sent to the Angels for minor-leaguers Alex Torres and Matt Sweeney and a minor-leaguer to be named.
"It's tough," Price said. "He was one of my better friends on the team. I'm friends with all the guys, but me and him, we hung out a lot. We live in the same building in Tampa. It's tough, but it's baseball and it's life."
Saturday, Price displayed the command that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft. The Tigers' lone run came in the eighth after Adam Everett reached on an infield single when shortstop Jason Bartlett couldn't handle his grounder and Magglio Ordonez singled off Dan Wheeler.
In between, Everett advanced to second when Wheeler had a wild pitch that Dioner Navarro couldn't block.
Price allowed five hits and the one run while striking out four and walking one in a career-high 71/3 innings.
"He was going from 91, 92 (mph) to 97 with his fastball, and he was spotting it," Navarro said. "We were trying two-seamers away and coming in with four-seamers. I don't think he threw any more than 10 breaking balls all day."
Price benefitted from a couple of stellar defensive plays by third baseman Evan Longoria and a nice catch against the wall by right fielder Gabe Gross on an eighth-inning drive by Curtis Granderson.
Grant Balfour got a key out in the eighth, and J.P. Howell, after blown saves in his last two appearances, retired the Tigers on six pitches in the ninth for his 16th save.
"I'd just lost a great game by the fellas (3-2 at Toronto on Wednesday), and I wanted to get in there and get out as quick as I could and not let the last one affect me," Howell said. "I think that would have been a little selfish on my end if I did."
Until the eighth, the only scoring was a pair of runs by the Rays in the second inning. Ben Zobrist drove in Akinori Iwamura with a groundout, and Carlos Pena made the Tigers pay for a two-out passed ball strikeout to Pat Burrell with his 25th RBI of the month.
The Rays' other run, coming in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Carl Crawford after an error by Everett, gave Howell some breathing room.