A three-time All-Star and the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, David Price has yet to win back-to-back starts this year.
Another meeting with the Houston Astros could be just what the Tampa Bay Rays staff ace needs.Price looks to beat the Astros for the second time in as many starts Friday night.Price (5-6, 3.93 ERA) was winless over a five-start span before striking out 10 and allowing three runs in eight innings of a 4-3 victory at Houston on Sunday. It was the fourth consecutive quality start for Price, who won for the first time since May 13."David is one of the best athletes I've ever met," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website. "He's one of the several really good pitchers that I think can throw a fastball strike whenever he wants to."The left-hander has won three of four career starts against the Astros (32-42) behind a 3.10 ERA while reaching at least the seventh inning in each of the past three meetings."He's a bulldog on the mound and he's going to come after you," Houston's Dexter Fowler said.Price, though, suffered his only loss against the Astros at home on July 12, despite tossing a complete game. He allowed eight hits in a 2-1 defeat that came opposite Jarred Cosart -- Houston's scheduled starter Friday.In what was Cosart's major league debut, the right-hander (6-5, 4.16) outpitched Price by yielding two hits in eight-plus scoreless innings. A rematch of that terrific matchup was missed by one day last weekend, as Cosart earned a 7-3 win over the Rays (29-45) on Saturday, overcoming food poisoning to allow three runs in seven innings."I felt terrible in the third inning, I thought: 'I'm not going to make it,'" he said. "But you keep pushing yourself. It's the competitive side. I didn't want to come out of the game. I didn't want to tax the bullpen and I guess I wasn't dying, so I was able to pitch."Cosart has a 2.68 ERA over his last six road starts, but is 3-2 since he'd been backed by one total run in those defeats.Run support may be an issue again after the Astros mustered three hits in Thursday's 5-0 defeat at St. Petersburg in the opener of this four-game set between last-place clubs.Houston is batting .224 while averaging 3.3 runs during a four-game slide, failing to homer in each of the last three contests.Fowler went 0 for 3 with a walk Thursday after hitting .400 over the previous 15 games.The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier is hitting .328 in 20 games since being recalled from Triple-A Durham last month. Four of the rookie outfielder's five hits in four games against Houston have gone for extra bases, including a two-run homer Thursday.Kiermaier had a pair of doubles in four at-bats versus Cosart last week, while Evan Longoria was also 2 for 4 with one home run.Half of Longoria's eight-game hitting streak has come against the Astros. Like Kiermaier, the third baseman has five hits against Houston, and he also homered Thursday.
Through the 1st 2 months of the season, David Price recorded only 17 strikeouts with his cutter while using it 22 percent of the time when he had 2 strikes.
In four June starts though, he's already recorded 14 Ks with his cutter and he's using in 30 percent of 2-strike counts.
David Price had 12 strikeouts Friday, the most in any loss in his career. It's tied with Dan Wheeler for the second-most strikeouts in a loss in Rays history.