For the past week, first place in the AL East has changed almost daily.
Tampa Bay (88-58) and New York have switched positions in the East five times in six days. The only day there was no change was Thursday when neither team played.
After reclaiming first by taking two of three from the Yankees during the week, the Rays dropped one-half game back with Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Angels, coupled with New York’s 4-3 comeback win over Baltimore. With the wild-card spot likely coming out of the East, the division title might be decided when Tampa Bay visits Yankee Stadium for a four-game series beginning Monday.
The Rays are seeking their second East title in three years, and a division championship could give Price (17-6, 2.75 ERA) the inside track for the Cy Young.
Price, tied for second in the AL in victories and third in ERA, will receive heavy consideration with New York’s CC Sabathia(notes) for the award. The two squared off Monday, and were knotted in a pitcher’s duel, each throwing eight innings in Tampa Bay’s 1-0, 11-inning victory.
Price limited the Yankees to three hits, and has yielded nine over 22 innings in three starts this month, while going 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA.
“(Sabathia) is good, but David is definitely approaching that category of pitching esteem,” manager Joe Maddon told the Rays’ official website.
Maddon originally had planned to give all his starting pitchers an extra day of rest with Thursday’s off day, but then decided to keep Price on his usual schedule so he could go again next week in the Bronx.
Price will first try to shut down an Angels team he limited to three runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 victory on May 12.
Los Angeles (72-75) won for the sixth time in eight games Friday on Brandon Wood’s(notes) tiebreaking solo homer to lead off the ninth. Wood, who was mired in a 3-for-43 slide, went deep for the first time since June 27.
Pineiro strained his left oblique while warming up prior to a start on July 28, and was expected to miss the entire season. He’s had a speedy recovery, however, and looked sharp in a rehab assignment for Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
“I was throwing everything,” the right-hander told the Angels’ official website. “It went really well. It was exciting.”
Pineiro also pitched well in his only start of the season against the Rays on May 10, giving up five hits while striking out seven in 6 1-3 scoreless innings of a 5-4, 11-inning victory. That was his first start against Tampa Bay since 2005.
This will be Pineiro’s first start for Los Angeles since being tagged for six runs in a loss to the Yankees on July 21. He was 7-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his previous eight outings.