The Baltimore Orioles failed to get much going against the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of this three-game set, and things aren't likely to get any easier with a matchup against David Price up next.
Looking to become the majors' first 14-game winner, Price tries for a career-best sixth consecutive victory as the Rays continue a nine-game road trip Wednesday night.
While his overall numbers leave little to be desired, Price (13-4, 2.64 ERA) has been especially dominant over his last six starts. The hard-throwing left-hander has gone 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA while striking out 42 in 42 1-3 innings and holding opponents to a .189 average.
"I'd say he's in the top two or three (AL pitchers), no question," manager Joe Maddon said. "From a purely selfish perspective, I'd say he is the best right now."
Price was at his best Thursday against Cleveland, allowing two hits, three walks and striking out seven in as many innings during a 6-0 win.
"My fastball's gotten better," he said. "I have more velocity; it's consistent throughout the entire game. The curveball's better and my cutter is more consistent right now. I throw my changeup whenever I need to and that's a little tougher for those guys."
Price threw 7 1-3 innings of four-hit ball June 1 in a 5-0 win over the Orioles, improving to 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA over 10 career matchups. He's gone 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in five outings in Baltimore.
Mark Reynolds is 2 for 17 with eight strikeouts against Price, though both hits have left the yard. Adam Jones hasn't fared much better, going 4 for 23.
While Jones hit his 23rd homer Tuesday, Baltimore (51-46) was otherwise stymied during a 3-1 loss. The Orioles were limited to three hits and went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. They've gone 6 for 52 (.115) in such situations over their last eight games.
"Hopefully we can pick it up here and score some runs," said catcher Matt Wieters, mired in a 1-for-23 slump.
Brooks Conrad hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning and the Rays (50-47) also received a boost from Sam Fuld, who went 1 for 3 with a stolen base and run scored in his season debut.
"That was a big win for us tonight to get the road trip off on the right foot," Conrad said.
Tampa Bay will get its first look at 28-year-old rookie Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 2.61). After his journey to the big leagues was derailed by several serious injuries, Gonzalez has held his own over his first three starts, going 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA.
"When you come from where Miguel has come from to get on the page, he's not going to assume or take anything for granted," manager Buck Showalter told the team's official website. "He's going to take advantage of every opportunity."
In his last outing, Gonzalez allowed two homers over 6 2-3 innings Friday in a 10-2 win at Cleveland. The right-hander gave up a season-high seven hits and struck out five.
Tampa Bay acquired infielder Ryan Roberts from Arizona in exchange for Double-A infielder Tyler Bortnick following Tuesday's win. Roberts hit .250 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 83 games with the Diamondbacks.