ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – David Price took the Twins’ best shots — at the plate and below his belt — but continued on for a complete-game victory in Tampa Bay’s 7-3 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night.
The ace lefthander tossed the second complete game in the American League this season, striking out 12 while giving up three runs on six hits and a walk. Six of those strikeouts came in the first three innings as he tore through the Twins lineup.
Yet Price was fortunate to escape the fourth inning, when Joe Mauer’s line drive deflected sharply off him, as if it struck something in particular. It did. His athletic cup.
The baseball bounced toward third as Mauer pulled up at first base. Price, for the most part, remained unfazed and went back to work.
“I don’t know how I didn’t feel it or how it didn’t break my cup,” he said. “It would have been nice if I would have gotten him out.”
One batter earlier, Brian Dozier had put the Twins on the board with a solo home run to left. With Mauer on first, Price hung a 3-2 cutter to Chris Colabello, who blasted it 403 feet away for a two-run homer.
“I think when Joe hit that ball back up the middle, it shook [Price] up a little,” Colabello said, “but he settled in.”
That three-run outburst was the Twins’ only offense. That closed the deficit to 5-3, but the Rays scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth — chasing Twins righthander Kyle Gibson in the process — to take a four-run lead and allow Price to find a groove.
The pitching matchup was anticipated by many. Price entered the game 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA, but still has a sterling reputation. Gibson entered the game 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA, but is still building his. Gibson, however, threw 41 pitches and gave up three runs in the first inning and never recovered. He gave up a two-run double to James Loney in the third and allowed two singles to open the fourth before he was replaced by Samuel Deduno.
Gibson previously had been able to avoid big innings, but the Rays were 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position, mostly off him.
“The kid just didn’t have it tonight,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They weren’t killing him but they were hitting balls in the right places.”
Speaking of balls, the umpiring crew created the latest replay confusion in the fifth inning when they lost track of the count and attempted to use replay to sort it out. Replays showed Deduno had walked the Rays’ Yunel Escobar. The second pitch of the at-bat appeared to be a foul tip, but actually deflected off catcher Kurt Suzuki’s glove and should have been called a ball. Crew chief Ted Barrett and his mates ruled that the count was 3-2, thinking the second pitch of the at-bat was a foul tip — even after consulting replay.
So Deduno got to throw a pitch with a 4-2 count — which was called strike three by home plate umpire Paul Schrieber.
“I knew there was a ball four in there somewhere,” Gardenhire said.
After the game, the league released a statement: “An error was made when replay officials and supervisors mistakenly thought one of the pitches was a foul ball when it was actually a ball.”
None of this affected Price, who surged into the ninth and struck out two more batters to get his complete game.