ST. PETERSBURG — LHP David Price faces the Rangers tonight for the first time since Sept. 30, the night he pitched the Rays to the AL wild card with a complete-game victory during the win-or-go-home 163rd game of the season.
“Just showing up in the moment,” Price said. “It was a very big game for us.”
Price counted off the biggest moments of his career — Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS and pitching in the ’08 World Series. Game 163 might have been bigger.
“For myself to be able to step up in that game, it was probably the coolest win I think I’ve ever got,” Price. “It was my game, and it was fun.”
Price and the Rays beat the Rangers 5-2. It was the only complete game pitched against the Rangers last season. In doing so, Price became the fifth pitcher to toss a complete game in a one-game playoff, joining Al Leiter, Randy Johnson, Joe Niekro and Gene Beardon.
Prior to that night, Price had a 1-7 record with a 5.57 ERA in 11 career starts (regular season and playoffs) against the Rangers.
As big of a moment as it was for the Rays and Price, Rays manager Joe Maddon said that game was just part of a long four days that saw the team win three win-or-go-home games. It began Sept. 29 when the Rays beat the Blue Jays in Toronto to finish the 162-game schedule in a tie with the Rangers, beat the Rangers the next night and the Indians two nights later to win the AL wild card game.
“You ask me about Texas and I think first about Toronto and how crazy that was at the end,” Maddon said. “Then going into Texas, and David had not done his best work there, but to go in there and do what he did was pretty darn good.”
CF Desmond Jennings said his word for this season is “consistency,” and he has been that through the first four games of the year.
Jennings entered Friday’s game tied for the major league lead with four doubles. He then doubled down the right field line in the fourth inning.
“The big thing is he’s working good at-bats,” Maddon said. “I think a good base runner, a good base stealer needs to get out there often.”
RF Wil Myers returned to the lineup Friday after missing Thursday’s game with flu-like symptoms. Maddon said Myers looked much better before Friday’s game than he had Thursday.
“If his hair is actually combed you know something is wrong,” Maddon said. “The more disheveled he looks the better he is. He looked disheveled so he’s fine.”
The first 20,000 fans through the doors tonight at Tropicana Field receive a Wil Myers Rookie of the Year bobblehead.
Maddon was asked if a better promotion might have been Wil Myers Comb Night.
“It’s Wil Myers Comb Night and you give them a leg of the chair. Something like that,” Maddon said.
UTL Sean Rodriguez returned to the Rays after missing one day on paternity leave for the birth of his fourth child — Zekiel Cruz.
“We knew he was going to be back (Friday),” Maddon said. “He knew there was a lefty pitching.”
INF Vince Belnome, recalled Thursday to replace Rodriguez on the roster, was optioned back to Triple-A Durham before Friday’s game.
1B James Loney did not start Friday because the Rangers were pitching LHP Joe Saunders. ... RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo (right elbow) began his minor-league rehab assignment Friday at Durham. ... 3B Evan Longoria, Bright House Sports Network, the Rays and Ducky’s Sports Lounge will each donate $100 to Pet Pal Animal Shelter for every home run Longoria hits this season. ... RHP Chris Archer visited patients Friday at All Children’s Hospital. ... OF Matt Joyce has reached base or driven in a run in 10 of his first 14 plate appearances this season.