Rays-Blue Jays Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- After a solid season debut, David Price's most recent outing left much to be desired.
A matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays could be just what he needs to get back on track.
Price takes the mound looking to win a fourth consecutive start at Rogers Centre as the scuffling Tampa Bay Rays and Blue Jays continue a three-game set Wednesday night.
Price (1-1, 4.82 ERA), who limited the New York Yankees to two runs over 6 1/3 innings of an 8-6 win April 7, was anything but sharp during Friday's 12-2 loss at Boston. The left-hander surrendered three runs, four hits and walked three over three innings - his shortest start in three seasons.
"I felt good (Friday), I just didn't have it," Price, whose seven walks issued are just one fewer than he allowed over his first five starts last season, told the team's official website.
"That's part of it. I'm going to have 33, 34 starts this year, and there are going to be some when I don't have it. My body felt good, my arm felt good. It just wasn't there ... My fastball location wasn't really where I wanted it and that's my biggest thing. That's what I've got to have."
Price, in contrast, has dominated the Blue Jays (6-4) over the course of his career. He is 9-2 with a 2.06 ERA in the series and has compiled an even more impressive 1.57 mark in winning his last three visits to Toronto.
In his most recent outing at Rogers Centre, Price threw seven innings of three-hit ball while striking out a career-high 14 during a 12-0 win Aug. 28.
Despite getting roughed up in that game, Toronto's scheduled starter Brandon Morrow (0-0, 2.57) has also experienced his fair share of success in this series of late, going 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA over his six most recent outings versus Tampa Bay. The hard-throwing right-hander has struck out 49 over 40 innings during that stretch while limiting the Rays to a .148 average.
While Tampa Bay (5-6) also failed to get much going at the plate against Toronto during Tuesday's 7-3 loss, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie all went deep for the Blue Jays, who capitalized on a career-worst three errors by Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
"It was a rough day," said the former two-time AL gold glove award winner, whose errors led to three unearned runs. "I'm just trying to make the aggressive play. Tonight it just happened to not work out three times ... A lot of it lies on my shoulders."
Since opening 3-0, the Rays have been outscored 52-23 in dropping six of eight.
Though Morrow has held opponents to a .152 average over two starts thus far, he's fanned just seven over 14 innings of work. He gave up four runs and six hits over seven innings of Friday's 7-5 loss to Baltimore. Morrow is 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA in his last six home starts dating to last season.
Desmond Jennings is 2 for 4 with a pair of home runs off Morrow, but Ben Zobrist is just 3 for 21 with nine strikeouts against him and Matt Joyce has gone 2 for 14. Joyce went 2 for 4 with his second homer Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to five games.
J.P. Arencibia has just one hit in 13 career at-bats versus Price while Lind and Yunel Escobar are a combined 9 for 45. Bautista, meanwhile, is 9 for 27 with four long balls.
Updated April 18, 2012