The Rays walked away from Chicago Sunday having given David Price his first victory of the season, while also salvaging the last two games of their previous four game set following an 8-3 win against the White Sox.
Having gone deep into the game for the second consecutive time, Price posted a solid 7 IP/6 H/3 R/3 ER/2 BB/9 K/1 HR slash line on 119 pitches (69 for strikes). The Rays ace looked shaky in the first and third after a pair of 20-plus pitch innings in which Chicago scored three runs on four hits. However Price settled in in the fourth, and the White Sox managed only a single and walk over the next four innings, while striking out five times. Price noticeably went into attack mode following Paul Konerko’s third inning two run homer, leaning on his fastball with success. Price’s fastball topped out at 96 MPH, and it was good to see it sit around 94 MPH. And even though Price threw his changeup sparingly — just seven times — he did so with success, recording six strikes and four whiffs.
The Rays allowed all the White Sox runs with two outs, giving them the lead twice in the game. But that’s where the Rays offense kicked in.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the sixth, Desmond Jennings lead the inning off with a ground rule double to center. Matt Joyce quickly followed that up with a 361 foot blast to right-field, tying the game. Tampa Bay took the lead in the eighth when Ben Zobrist singled home Sean Rodriguez who initially reached base on a single, and moved to second on a wild pitch.
With two on and one out, Evan Longoria walked to load the bases. Ryan Roberts came up to face Jesse Crain (who came on in relief of Matt Thornton) after James Loney flied out to center. Roberts hit a pop up to short right field that Alex Rios simply dropped, allowing both Joyce and Zobrist to score. The Rays took a 6-3 lead that they’d never relinquish.
The Tampa Bay Rays would tack on two more runs in the ninth on another late-in-the-game two-out rally (of sorts), and Fernando Rodney closed things out.
The game was not without controversy though. In the seventh inning, with Dewayne Wise at the plate, Price threw a pitch which looked to be right over the plate for what would’ve been strike three. Home plate umpire Tom Halion didn’t see things that way, and called the pitch a ball.
Price shook it off and got Wise to hit a come-backer to end the inning. Visibly upset, Price marched straight to the dugout when something caught his attention in the direction of home plate.
David Price seemed unhappy with home plate umpire Tom Hallion as he came off the mound. After some words were exchanged, the typically mild mannered Jeremy Hellickson got ejected. Per Mark Topkin, Price said he said nothing to provoke Hallion and the bench was upset because Hallion told him to “throw the ball over the f-in plate.”
A series of accusations and tweets followed the game.
Rays players’ tweets on umpire Tom Hallion, who says Price is lying about him cursing
Someone give me the definition of a coward please
Someone please give me the definition of accountability…
Think our entire dugout would ERUPT cause an ump told me to throw the ball over the plate? No, I’m sorry that wouldnt happen #accountability.
— David Price, @DAVIDprice14
There’s only one person lying about all this and his name starts with a T and rhymes with pom
— Jeremy Hellickson, @JHell58
Unbelievable someone would mis remember so quickly. Stay in your lane. Nobody cares what you have to say. #tom
— Matt Moore, @MattyMoe55
Stephanie Katz of DRaysBay did a little sleuthing and found that this wasn’t Halion’s first bout with controversy,
This also wasn’t the first time that umpire Tom Hallion has been involved in controversy. Per Baseball Reference, Hallion was once ejected in 1999 in which he bumped both a Rockies player and coach after the Rockies pitcher had argued a check-swing call with the third base umpire. Hallion was suspended three games for the incident. Later that year, Hallion and 56 other umpires resigned as part of a strategy to raise umpires salaries. MLB called the bluff and accepted the resignations. Hallion would not return as an umpire with MLB until 2004.
Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see how Major League Baseball handles this situation, though we may not see anything publicly; discipline against umpires is often — but not always — handled internally.
Per Marc Topkin,
MLB officials are looking into Sunday’s incident and accusations between Price and Hallion. The ultimate decision on any discipline would come from Joe Torre, along with input from Peter Woodfork and Joe Garagiola Jr.
Disciplining Hallion is one possibility – based on the initial accusation of cursing at Price, and then if that is found to be true for then calling Price a liar.
But Price and several other Rays players, such as Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore, could also be disciplined for violating MLB’s social media policy given their tweets after the game.
The MLB policy, introduced last year, specifies that players may not display or transmit “content that questions the impartiality of or otherwise denigrates a Major League umpire.”
The New What Next
Following an off-day Monday, Tampa Bay will be in Kansas City for a three game set against the Royals, including the heavily anticipated match-up between James Shields and Alex Cobb on Tuesday. Tampa Bay will try to continue their winning ways of the last third of April, though it won’t be easy: the AL Central leading Royals are 13-9 (as of Monday) and seem to be a vastly improved team after, ahem, a few key off-season acquisitions.
How the Rays Hitters Fare Against the Royals Series Starters
James Shields: Per Rotowire, Shields struck out eight batters and allowed one run over six innings against the Red Sox on Saturday. Only a handful of Rays have faced Shields, and those that have haven’t fared well. Those Rays have posted a .247 BA/.298 OBP/.371 SLG/.669 OPS slash line in 97 official at-bats, with a grand total of eight extra base-hits; six doubles and two homers. Luke Scott accounts for four of the doubles and one of the homers, as he could play an integral role Tuesday night with an imminent return from the DL being nigh. We all know what Shields is capable of, and we’d be foolish to expect any less from Juego G. We still love you Shieldsy…just not when you face the Rays.
Luis Mendoza: The Rays haven’t seen much of Mendoza (0-1, 4.15 ERA against the Rays over a three year span), 4.1 innings of work in the last three seasons to be exact. Tampa Bay has been able to beat up on Mendoza in a limited number of at-bats, posting a combined .286 BA/.378 OBP/.464 SLG/.843 OPS slash line. Key match-ups: Kelly Johnson (2-3, RBI, BB), Matt Joyce (2-3, 2B, BB), Sean Rodriguez (1-1, 2B).
Ervin Santana: Per Rotowire, Santana threw seven scoreless innings against the Indians on Saturday to earn his third win of the season. Tampa Bay has been a thorn in the side of Ervin Santana (1-2, 6.61 ERA against the Rays over a three year span) the last few seasons, posting a combined .279 BA/.336 OBP/.519 SLG/.855 OPS slash line, with eight homers and 22 RBI’s in 129 at-bats. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (7-17, 2B, 4 RBI, BB), Desmond Jennings (1-3, HR, RBI), Matt Joyce (4-14, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB), James Loney (5-14, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (5-12, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB), Luke Scott (8-21, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB).
- The Rays have now hit home runs in 14 consecutive games.
- Per MLB.com, Since June 20, 2011, Evan Longoria has 49 homers and 149 RBIs in 188 games. During this span, he leads the Majors with 4.69 at-bats per RBI, and ranks third with 14.16 at-bats per home run. Only Toronto’s Jose Bautista (12.44) and Colorado’s Wilin Rosario (14.11) have more.
- Tampa Bay will likely get back Luke Scott, Yunel Escobar, and Jose Molina Tuesday. Scott looks to be fully healed from a strained right calf that’s kept him out this season. Neither Escobar nor Molina were in the lineup Sunday, with Escobar last suiting up on Wednesday. Molina was available in an emergency. Maddon hopes to have both back in the lineup against the Royals.
- In the Royals first 21 games, the starters have gone six or more innings 17 times.
- Royals lowered their team ERA to 2.96 — the best in the Majors — following a shutout in the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday.
- Also per MLB.com, Tuesday’s start marks Cobb’s third career start against the Royals, all at Kauffman Stadium. He is 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA (15 innings, eight earned runs). In his last outing on June 25, 2012, he threw his first career complete game, and was the first of its kind in 16 years. Cobb allowed a career-high 13 hits and eight runs over eight innings, while the Rays were shut out, 8-0; it was the first complete game with 13 or more hits and eight or more runs since Tim Wakefield did it in 1996 with the Red Sox.
More on this series a bit.