It’s been nearly 14 years since the previous season’s Cy Young Award winners have started against each other, though they’ve hardly resembled the same pitchers this season.
R.A. Dickey will try to avoid losing a fourth straight start and lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a series win over the Tampa Bay Rays as he opposes the struggling David Price on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
“Neither one of us are probably where we want to be at this part of the year,” Dickey said. “I think he would say the same thing, but it’s special anytime the reigning Cy Young Award winners face each other.”
It hasn’t happened since Atlanta’s Tom Glavine faced Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees on July 15, 1999. The only other such occurrence was Aug. 28, 1989, when Frank Viola of the New York Mets opposed Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Both Dickey and Price won 20 games last season but have combined to go 3-8 with a 5.81 ERA this year.
Traded to Toronto (13-22) in December, Dickey (2-5, 5.36 ERA) is hoping to regain the form that helped him win the NL Cy Young Award with the Mets in 2012. The right-hander enters at risk of suffering his worst losing streak since early in the 2011 season.
Dickey lost his third consecutive start and was booed off the mound by the home crowd Saturday after allowing seven runs and a season-high three home runs in six innings of an 8-1 loss to Seattle.
“I did hear them, it was hard not to,” said Dickey, who was pitching on an extra day of rest because of lingering neck and back soreness. “They were pretty animated. You can’t blame them.”
The knuckleballer outpitched Price in his last start against the Rays, allowing only an infield single as he went the distance in a 9-1 victory at Tropicana Field on June 13. That win saw Dickey run his scoreless innings streak to 32 2-3 to break the Mets’ record.
Price was tagged for seven runs and nine hits that night in one of his worst efforts of his AL Cy Young Award season, but he’s already had a few performances like that in 2013.
The worst came Saturday as he gave up a career-high nine earned runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss at Colorado.
The Rays (15-18) have dropped six of his first seven starts. Price (1-3, 6.25) has allowed a .302 batting average and eight home runs after limiting opponents to .226 and 16 homers last season.
“He’s just been such a dominant pitcher over the years it’s definitely weird to see that he’s struggling so much,” outfielder Matt Joyce said. “I think for him, once he gets that confidence or feeling that he needs or is looking for, he’s going to take off.”
Price is 11-2 with a 1.83 ERA in his past 13 starts against the Blue Jays, though he’s lost the last two at home.
Jose Bautista is 11 for 31 (.355) with four homers against Price but enters this matchup homerless in 10 games since April 17. Melky Cabrera is 4 for 9 off Price and has been on a tear, going 10 for 18 with four RBIs over the last four games.
Bautista went hitless Wednesday as the Blue Jays had a season-high three-game winning streak snapped with a 10-4 loss. Toronto, which came from behind to beat the Rays on Monday and Tuesday, is looking to win a series at Tropicana Field for the first time since winning two of three April 6-8, 2007.
Evan Longoria is 6 for 12 with two homers and seven RBIs in this series and batting .500 with 13 RBIs in his last seven versus Toronto.
Kelly Johnson 3 for 4 with a homer on Wednesday, is 15 for 35 with 12 RBIs over his last nine games.