Price sees season end unexpectedly
Stats improve in Game 5, but Rangers run rampant on ace
ST. PETERSBURG -- David Price knows what it is like to be the hero in a clinching game. He was that guy two years ago, coming out of the bullpen and overpowering the Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
This time -- in another winner-take-all match -- Price was beaten by the hero. The Rays' ace hardly pitched poorly, giving up eight hits and three runs over six innings. But it wasn't enough for his team -- not on a night Cliff Lee carried the Rangers on his back.
Price and the Rays simply weren't enough to neutralize Lee in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers in Tuesday night's Game 5 of the AL Division Series.
"The guy they ran out there tonight is one of the best in the game -- he proved that over the course of the entire season and in this postseason," Price said. "Sometimes you have to tip your cap. He threw the ball well. It stinks. It's obvious I'd like to be on the opposite end of this right here, but that's not the way it happened."
Unlike two years ago, when Price transformed himself from September callup to postseason hero, he was a known commodity this time around. He now goes by the title of ace, and that's why it stings him that he was the losing pitcher in two of his team's three defeats in this series.
"To have the season we did and for me to throw it away like I did in the postseason, obviously I don't want to come in here and throw like that," Price said. "That's a pretty good team over there, and they're probably going to make a pretty good push this postseason and we'll watch what happens."
After giving up five runs in Game 1, Price desperately wanted another crack at Lee and the Rangers. He got his chance, and performed far better this time.
When he left the game, his team trailed, 3-1.
"I felt good," Price said. "I felt like I commanded everything tonight -- inside and out and with my fastball. I felt like I had real good curveball command. It just didn't go the way I wanted to."
Part of the problem is that the Rangers simply took the game from the Rays, being aggressive on the bases. Price was directly involved in some of those plays.
In the top of the first, Elvis Andrus stole second. On a grounder to first by Josh Hamilton, Andrus, who had taken off on the pitch, never stopped running. He motored around from third as a stunned Price fielded the throw at first. There was no play at the plate.
"Yeah, I guess so," said Price, asked if Andrus surprised him. "It just kind of caught us all off-guard. It happens."
It happened again in the sixth. With runners on first and second, Ian Kinsler hit one to Carlos Pena at first, and he tried to start a 3-6-1 double play. As Price took the throw at first, Kinsler was safe and Vladimir Guerrero scored all the way from second. Price fired it to the plate, but catcher Kelly Shoppach's tag was too late.
"I could have gotten over there a little bit quicker," Price said. "I thought it was hit to the second baseman. I thought it was hit further off the line than that, and then I saw [Pena] had it and then I got over there and it was a great atmosphere tonight, so I couldn't really hear anything. I couldn't hear anybody yelling at me. I mean, that second one I probably could have controlled."
The entire night went nothing like Price expected. He came in feeling confident.
"He definitely had his stuff," said Shoppach. "He definitely had fun. When we started playing catch in the outfield, he has just an infectious smile and he was smiling and I was smiling back at him. It was just kind of understood: We're still out here to have a good time and have fun and leave it all out on the field, and he did."
Price left the field with few regrets; he just wished the outcome was better.
"They gave me another shot to get back out there, and that's all I asked for and I wasn't able to come through for us," Price said. "That's tough to swallow. It will be a tough couple of days, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. It was a fun year, a good year. That's how it happens sometimes."