11:44 Update: The Phillies made it interesting, scoring one more time in the ninth. Price struck out Utley with one in the ninth inning, though, before getting Howard to ground into the Rays’ shift to end the game and give the Rays a 4-2 victory.
Shields, who scattered seven hits in 5.2 shutout innings, picked up the win. Myers suffered the loss, as he allowed all four runs, three of which were earned, in seven frames.
The win was huge for the Rays, who did not want to head to Philadelphia down two games. Tampa Bay is now back in the drivers’ seat, with favorable pitching matchups the rest of the series. Matt Garza, the Most Valuable Player of the ALCS, will square off against veteran lefty Jamie Moyer at Citizen's Bank Ballpark in Game 3 on Saturday night, if the weather holds up.
The Rays ran into one of the majors’ most effective pitchers, Cole Hamels, on the way to losing the opener. But, with the series again even, they remain the favorites, with Garza and Andy Sonnanstine slated to pitch Games 3 and 4 against the fairly average duo of Moyer, now 45 years old, and Joe Blanton.
Philadelphia will look to use its home field advantage, though, to jump out to another series lead. In order for this to happen, the Phillies are going to need for Howard and Rollins, who is now 0-for-10 in the series, to pick it up offensively and improve on their poor execution with runners in scoring position. The Phillies, following the loss, are now 1-for-28 with RISP. On the lone hit, though, the Phillies could not score a run, quite amazingly.
11:16 Update: With one out in the eighth inning, pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett blasted a home run to left field off of Price. Bruntlett is now 2-for-9 in the postseason. He batted .217/.297/.297, with two home runs and 15 RBIs, in 212 at-bats during the regular season.
10:55 Update: Price came on of relief of Wheeler with two outs in the top of the seventh. The young left-hander walked the first batter he faced, the dangerous Chase Ultey. He continued to impress by striking out the struggling Ryan Howard a few minutes later, though. Howard, who is now 2-for-4 on the night, went down looking.
Price has still not allowed a run in limited postseason work.
Click here for an old interview that I did with Price back before the start of spring training.
10:37 Update: David Price is warming up in the Rays’ bullpen. Price, the top prospect in the minors entering the season, caught the nation’s eye with his tremendous performance in the Rays’ game 7 win over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. The number one pick out of Vanderbilt University in the 2007 draft, he tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless ball, flashing a mid-90s heater, filthy slider and tremendous poise for such a young kid to help the Rays hold off the Red Sox in their biggest game of the year.
Although a minor arm injury set him back a few weeks in spring training, Price began the year with a bang, touching 99 on the gun while impressing Alex Rodriguez, his teammates and the rest of those watching him mow down the New York Yankees during a Grapefruit League game on the YES Network.
Price then spent the next several weeks at the Rays' training complex in St. Petersburg, where he had the opportunity to face A-Rod again, drawing praise from the Future Hall of Famer during an extended spring training game.
When he was healthy enough to make his long-anticipated debut, Price made the move to the Florida State League, where he set the circuit on fire with his performance for the Vero Beach Devil Rays. In six starts there, he went 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA and a 37-to-7 K/W ratio in 34.2 innings pitched.
Price then went a perfect 7-0 in the Southern League, posting a 1.89 ERA in nine starts for the Montgomery Biscuits. With Montgomery, he earned Southern League Postseason All-Star honors, in addition to being named the league Pitcher of the Week twice.
Soon enough, Price forced the organization’s hand to promote him to Triple-A Durham. Although he had some struggles (4.50 ERA in four starts) there, he continued to impress and was called up to Tampa Bay on September 13. In 19 minor league starts combined between all three stops, he finished 12-1 with a 2.30 ERA, 109-to-32 K/W ratio and .228 opponents’ batting average to earn USA Today Minor League Player of the Year honors.
During September, Joe Maddon used Price sparingly, perhaps waiting to unleash his secret weapon at the perfect time—the ALCS. In five appearances, including one solid start against the Baltimore Orioles, he posted a 1.93 ERA in only 14.0 innings pitched.
Price earned his first major league win during Game 2 of the ALCS, and his first save a few days later in the series finale. He has not allowed an earned run in three postseason appearances.
10:26 Update: Shields’ night is done. With his pitch count over 100, he was removed after surrendering two hits in the top of the sixth inning. The 26-year-old right-hander, the eldest pitcher on the Rays’ staff, allowed seven hits and walked two hitters in 5.2 shutout innings. With runners on the corners, Dan Wheeler came on in relief to record the final out of the inning. He retired Philadelphia third baseman Pedro Feliz on a fielder’s choice, getting Shields off the hook as the Phillies continued to struggle with men on base. “Big Game” James has now allowed eight earned runs in 29.0 postseason innings pitched.
10:04 Update: James Shields has looked fairly solid through five shutout innings. Shields, who went 9-2 with a 1.59 ERA during the regular season at Tropicana Field, has scattered five hits and surrendered three walks. The Phillies’ struggles to cash in on opportunities with runners in scoring position have continued, however, in part due to his ability to get several big outs. Shields labored through the first few innings, though, and may not last much longer.
Brett Myers, on the other hand, has not had the same luck. Myers has allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits. The Rays have capitalized on their chances using any way possible, with only one of the runs coming on a base hit—an RBI single by B.J. Upton in the second inning. The Rays scored twice on RBI groundouts in the first inning.
To reach Tyler Hissey, send an email to Tyler Hissey@gmail.com.