A positive change for David Price
ARLINGTON, Texas -- We had such great plans on "Sunday Night Baseball" to demonstrate baseball's trendsetters at work. The Tampa Bay Rays have taken the use of defensive shifts to the next level this year -- employing the alignments six times more than they did a year ago -- and the numbers show that other teams are following their lead.
But then the Rays used only one shift in their victory against the Texas Rangers on Sunday night, in a game that became more about David Price's recent trend of relying on -- and trusting -- a devastating changeup. The Tampa Bay left-hander went into the game winless in six decisions against the Rangers, with a 5.30 ERA, and in each instance in which he was in serious trouble last night, he steered grittily with his off-speed stuff.
Price had a 5-2 lead and had thrown 104 pitches as the bottom of the seventh inning began, and after Mike Napoli singled to lead off, Rays manager Joe Maddon could have relieved Price. Joel Peralta was warmed up and ready to go in the visitors' bullpen.
But Maddon stuck with Price to face Yorvit Torrealba, a noted fastball hitter, and Torrealba worked himself into what seemed to be a great situation to get a fastball: The count was full at 3-2, and if Price had walked Torrealba, he would have brought the tying run to the plate.
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