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Rays

Price still searching for first win after 4-3 loss to Yankees

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Published:   |   Updated: April 24, 2013 at 08:39 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The velocity was better. The command was sharper. David Price looked more like the 2012 Cy Young Award-winning Price on Tuesday night against the visiting New York Yankees.

But Price didn't get the victory and Tampa Bay Rays didn't get a win, and the frustration of a winless month surfaced when Price abruptly shutdown down his post-game session with media and walked away from his locker after answering questions for less than a minute.

“We're 0-5 when I pitch. I don't feel better,” Price said when asked if he was encouraged by his outing.

Price pitched into the ninth inning but was pulled after allowing a lead-off single to Robinson Cano, who eventually scored the winning run in the Yankees 4-3 victory.

Price is 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA in five starts. The Rays have lost all five.

He is the second reigning Cy Young Award winner to go winless in his first five starts of the year. The other, Minnesota's Frank Viola, was 0-5 in his first seven starts in 1989.

“Starters live and die by wins and losses,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I'm more process oriented when it comes to that. I just think he pitched better. I thought he threw the ball really well, so if he throws the ball like that and we score four runs, he walks away and he feels like he's fantastic, but we don't score four runs and he doesn't feel so good.”

Price's frustration with being asked about his velocity nearly boiled over with the first question he faced after the game. According to PITCHf/x, price averaged a major-league best 95.5 mph on his fastball during his 20-win season in 2012.

He touched 95 in the first inning but was consistently in the 92- to 94 mph range. Not a horrible drop off by any means, but enough of one to have people asking if he is healthy.

Price said Monday that he is fine.

“First and foremost I'm not worried about velocity,” he said. “I get asked every five days or whatever it is, I'm not worried about that. I've said that before. It's going to be here. April was my lowest month velocity-wise last year. It's no different. I feel fine. Just make better pitches, I guess.”

Maddon said Price's velocity is not an issue.

“I truly believe you're going to see the normal numbers season in progress,” Maddon said. “He's just getting stretched out. I thought he looked a lot closer to normal velocity-wise, stuff-wise.”

Price allowed eight hits – all singles and none were hit particularly hard. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter. But he gave up a pair of one-run leads.

It was a 2-2 game entering the ninth. Price allowed a leadoff single to Robinson Cano on his 99th pitch of the game and was pulled for closer Fernando Rodney.

Rodney walked two batters (one intentionally) and allowed a hit – a two-out single to centerfield by Ichiro Suzuki that scored two runs.

Maddon said he made the move to Rodney because he felt Price might have been upset with giving up the leadoff single and wanted Rodney to finish off the inning.

Price was upset – upset about being pulled from the game.

“Absolutely,” Price said. “I feel like I faced one of the best hitters in game of baseball I can get the other guys out as well. I want to be in that game. I felt like it was my game to lose. It stinks.”

Evan Longoria homered in the bottom of the ninth to extend his streak of reaching base in consective games to begin a season to 20. Rocco Baldelli holds the team record with 24 in 2003.

But the loss snapped the Rays winning streak at four games and denied them a chance to reach .500 for the season during this homestand, which concludes tonight.

The ace of the staff is frustrated as April nears May. The manager is encouraged after another losing effort.

“Honestly there was no panic on my part,” Maddon said. “I knew that he would (pitch better). As the season builds he's going to build like you saw him pitch last year, and (Tuesday) was a lot closer to that. And again, I'm not even looking at results. I'm looking at stuff. Velocity looked better. Strike-throwing was good. The other stuff was good, also. He looked more normal.”

rmooney@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7227

Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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