If that was an issue during an inconsistent 2009 for the left-hander, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a problem now.
After making five appearances in 2008, Price (3-1, 2.20 ERA) showed flashes of his enormous potential last year and won 10 games despite a 4.42 ERA.
Outstanding in his first two starts this season, Price lasted only five-plus innings in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox on April 20. He returned to form in a big way Sunday, throwing a four-hitter in a 6-0 win over Toronto for his first complete game. He struck out nine and walked one while throwing 108 pitches.
“On this staff, five or six innings isn’t enough,” Price said. “We want to go seven, eight or nine, and that’s what these guys have been doing all year.”
The win improved Price to 10-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 15 career appearances at Tropicana Field, where he threw seven strong innings in an 8-2 victory over the Royals on July 31.
Tampa Bay received another strong performance from a starter Friday night when Jeff Niemann(notes) allowed one run in 7 1-3 innings, but the offense was limited to four hits in a 3-2 loss, snapping the Rays’ five-game win streak.
Even Longoria homered and drove in both runs as Tampa Bay lost for only the third time in 17 games and ended April 17-6.
After reaching the World Series in 2008, Tampa Bay went 9-14 in April last season and missed the playoffs.
“It was a fabulous month,” manager Joe Maddon said. “All we talked about was to get off to a good start. I could not be happier with the group.”
It was a rare off night for the Rays, who batted .347 and outscored opponents 44-13 during their five-game streak. They lost to the Royals (9-14) for only the second time in 12 games since the start of last season.
“It’s a win here in the house of horrors,” Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.
Kyle Davies(notes) (2-1, 3.65) had his best outing of the season Monday against Seattle, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He was removed after completing the sixth due to a high pitch count, giving up just an infield single with five strikeouts in a 3-1 victory.
“I go out there and pitch until he takes the ball out of my hand,” Davies said. “It’s the seventh inning, you pitched six good innings, let the bullpen take over.”
The right-hander has pitched at least six innings in each of his four starts, giving up more than three runs only once.
Davies is 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA in two starts against the Rays.