Of course, he’s got a ways to go before he can reach the level of the New York Yankees’ ace.
After Friday’s contest was rained out, the awaited matchup between Price and Sabathia - who looks to win his fifth straight decision - will take place Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
In 2001, Sabathia (5-3, 3.46 ERA) made his major league debut at the age of 20 with Cleveland. The 6-foot-7, 290-pound left-hander has since established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball, totaling 122 victories, and he signed a $161 million, seven-year contract in the offseason with New York (32-22).
That’s the same kind of future baseball observers predict for Price (1-0, 3.00), who got his start in the majors when he starred in last year’s postseason at the age of 23 to help Tampa Bay (28-28) reach its first World Series.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound left-hander, who was recalled from the minors with Scott Kazmir(notes) on the disabled list, earned his first career regular season win Saturday when he yielded one run over 5 2-3 innings and struck out 11 in a 5-2 victory over Minnesota.
Price said Friday that he was looking forward to facing off against a player he’s yet to meet but admires greatly.
“I look up to the guy. I mean, he’s handled himself the right way on and off the field,” Price said. “I know what he does for his camps out in California, where he gets the little kids together and lets them play baseball in the inner cities. I mean, that’s huge. … I don’t think there’s a better role model than him.”
Sabathia hasn’t lost since May 2, and improved to 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts last Saturday in his return to Cleveland. He struck out eight and gave up three runs over seven innings in a 10-5 win.
That changeup is a major difference between the two pitchers, since Price does not throw one. Price also throws a harder slider than Sabathia.
While Price has yet to face New York, Sabathia has dominated the Rays, going 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 11 starts. He also downplayed the matchup.
“I knew that he was pitching today and people were going to make a big fuss out of it. But I’m not hitting off of him, so I’m more worried about their lineup,” Sabathia said Friday.
Sabathia did not pitch against Tampa Bay last season, and may get his first look at Rays slugger Evan Longoria(notes) on Saturday. Longoria, who left Tuesday’s 6-2 win over Kansas City with tightness in his left hamstring, has not played in the Rays’ last two games.
He tested his leg in workouts Friday and said he felt good.
The Rays are 3-2 against the Yankees this season, including a two-game sweep in New York from May 6-7. Longoria went 4 for 10 with two homers and four RBIs in the two games at Yankees’ new $1.5 billion stadium.
This series pits the two highest-scoring teams in baseball. Tampa Bay has scored 312 runs while New York has 310.
The Yankees have won seven of their last 10 while the Rays are trying to match a season high with their fourth straight win.