Tampa Bay's Price shuts down Pirates in series finale
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton kept pace with Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price strikeout for strikeout Wednesday.
But the Pirates' offense was no match for Price, who guided the Rays to a 5-1 victory.
Morton (4-9) amassed 11 strikeouts in seven innings, reaching double digits for the first time in 125 career games. It's the most strikeouts by a Pirates pitcher since A.J. Burnett got 12 on Sept. 12, 2013.
“I was making good pitches, offspeed pitches, and started getting ahead pretty well,” Morton said. “The curveball is a big factor in the success I've had.”
Price (6-7) worked 81⁄3 innings and also got 11 strikeouts, the eighth time in 17 outings he's whiffed 10 or more in a game. Price is the first pitcher since Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins in June-July 2004 to notch double digit strikeouts in five straight starts.
“It's always fun to watch pitchers command the baseball,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I'm sure it's been said before, but Price was right tonight.”
Price is on pace for more than 290 strikeouts, which easily would shatter the Rays' single-season record of 239 set by Scott Kazmir in 2007. No American League pitcher has collected that many strikeouts since Pedro Martinez got 313 in 1999.
“We always talk about the pitching drives the engine,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “David was really, really, really good today. That's the kind of game we're used to seeing.”
However, there is no guarantee Price will be with the Rays at the end of the season — or even at the end of this week. Saddled with the worst record in the majors, the Rays are rebuilding and are listening to trade offers for Price.
Andrew McCutchen broke up Price's shutout bid with a one-out, solo home run in the ninth inning.
“My last batter at Vanderbilt was a home run,” Price said. “My last hitter last year was a home run. You guys think I'm out of here now, and maybe my last hitter for the Rays was a home run again.”
Josh Harrison slapped a one-out single in the first inning, but Price didn't give up another hit until the fifth, when Neil Walker singled with two outs.
The Pirates' best chance to score came in the seventh. With two outs and two runners on base, Walker stroked a changeup to deep center field. Desmond Jennings made a running catch on the warning track.
Morton allowed only four hits, but he was done in by a 29-pitch first inning in which he gave up three runs (two earned).
Jennings led off with a single. He scored on Ben Zobrist's triple to right-center field.
“Against a lefty (like Zobrist), I'm trying to elevate the pitch and get it up on his hands,” Morton said. “It was elevated, but it was out over the plate. That's just a bad spot.”
With one out, shortstop Jordy Mercer muffed Evan Longoria's grounder. Zobrist scored, and Longoria reached first.
James Loney singled on a liner that caromed off Morton's right foot. Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch, and Kevin Kiermaier's sacrifice fly scored Longoria.
The three runs might have seemed like a million runs to Price. In each of his previous 10 starts, the Rays gave him two or fewer runs of support.
Morton settled down after the first inning. Starting with Kiermaier's fly ball, Morton retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced.
“Charlie battled back,” Hurdle said. “After the first inning, he repeated his delivery and found his stroke. He was very efficient and mixed his pitches well. Unfortunately, by then we were three runs down.”
Jason Grilli, removed last week from the closer role, got two outs in the eighth and gave up two runs on three hits.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates will implement price increase for 2015 tickets
- Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister named Rangers manager
- Pirates organization to continue pursuing value free agents in offseason
- Pirates’ Banister named finalist for Rangers’ managing job
- Giants, Bumgarner shut out Pirates in wild-card game
- Pirates notebook: Nutting says team may ‘stretch’ for Martin
- Pirates GM Huntington believes his coaching staff will return intact
- Pirates are solid at shortstop with the durable Mercer in play
- Pirates face mound of decisions in offseason