David Price tries to pitch the Tampa Bay Rays into the postseason for the second time in franchise history this evening when they continue their three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.
Baltimore kept the Rays’ champagne on ice on Monday, as Brian Matusz turned in seven scoreless innings and Nick Markakis drove in a pair of runs, propelling the Orioles to a 4-0 victory. Luke Scott added two hits and knocked in a run and Ty Wigginton posted an RBI for Baltimore, which snapped a four-game slide.
Matusz (9-12) scattered three hits, fanned eight and walked two en route to his fifth straight victory.
“I got ahead of hitters and it made it a lot easier,” Matusz said.
Tampa Bay remained a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the AL East, after they lost in Toronto.
Wade Davis (12-10) took the loss after yielding seven hits and three runs over 6 1/3 frames for the Rays, who need just one victory or a Boston loss in order to clinch a playoff berth. The Red Sox beat the White Sox Monday night.
“All we have to do is win. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does,” Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach said.
With 93 wins Tampa Bay is four wins shy of tying its franchise high in victories, set during its pennant season in 2008, and with 274 wins in the last three seasons, the Rays have become just the fourth franchise in major league history to average at least 90 wins in a three-year span immediately after averaging at least 90 losses in a three-year stretch.
Despite all that, though, there were only 12,446 fans in attendance on Monday for the Rays, something that did not go unnoticed by a few of the team’s stars. Following the game, Price tweeted, “Had a chance to clinch a postseason spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands. Embarrassing”.
Price’s tweet echoed the sentiments of third baseman Evan Longoria, who also stated that the fan turnout has been disheartening.
Right in the thick of the American League Cy Young Award race, Price has put forth the best season by a starter in team history and has helped his chances with a strong September that has seen him go 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA.
Tampa has also won all five of his September starts.
Price beat the Yankees his last time out, holding them to three runs and eight hits in six innings to up his season mark to 18-6 to go along with a 2.84 ERA.
In four starts against the O’s Price is 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA.
Baltimore will counter with right-hander Brad Bergesen, who has won five of his last six decisions. Bergesen improved to 8-10 last Tuesday in Boston, as he held the Red Sox to a run and five hits in six innings to lower his ERA to 4.90.
Bergesen has lost all three of his starts to the Rays and has pitched to a 9.00 ERA in doing so.
Tampa is 10-6 this season against the Orioles.