David Price's season last year in 2011 has proved to be what one would call an "off year", thanks to his lights-out pitching throughout the entire 2012 season. A lefty-lefty matchup of Price and CC Sabathia was on tonight's menu, and with season's end rapidly approaching, one game is as crucial as the next, and both starters knew they had to have their best, now more than ever. With the Yankees trying so desperately to avoid their best impersonation of last year's September Red Sox, Sabathia had some added pressure to pitch as well as we've become accustomed to him pitching. For David Price, it was about holding a Derek Jeter-led offense to only a couple runs, which is known to all to be no simple task.
The hype surrounding the two elite lefties turned out to be everything but, with Price and Sabathia matching one another pitch-for-pitch. While the Yankees tagged Price with the long ball courtesy of Curtis Granderson's 38th homer of the season, the Rays resorted to a small-ball appraoch to tag Sabathia for four runs in six innings of work.
As lopsided as that sounds, the game was surprisingly close all the way up until the seventh inning, where the score separated by only a single run (3-2). Ben Zobrist hit a single off of Sabathia that scored Elliot Johnson, making it a 4-2 game, and consequently ending Sabathia's night on the mound. The Yankees brought in Cody Eppley to stop the bleeding, but that proved to be an exercise in futility. BJ Upton came to the plate in the eighth with his usual free-swinging mentality, and he cashed in (instead of his usual strikeout), lacing an Eppley changeup to left field, making it 5-2.
That same inning, the ever-struggling Alex Rodriguez decided to get out of his home run slump, pulling a Joel Peralta fastball 421 feet to left, simultaneously making the game both close (5-4) and surprisingly interesting. It was then time to bring in the best closer in the majors, Fernando Rodney, to silence the Yankees bats, for the longest save opportunity he's faced this season (1.2 innings). Despite allowing a walk, Rodney answered the call, striking out two and earning his major league-leading 43rd save, once again proving to be the best acquisition the Rays made this offseason.
Notable stats from tonight's game:
D. Price: (18-5,W) 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
B. Zobrist: 2-4, RBI
BJ Upton: 1-5, Solo HR, RBI