AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Price allowed a walk and a double in the first inning, then struck out the side, showing both the good and bad of his evening. He similarly made it through the second and third innings unscathed but did put men on base in the process. In the fourth inning, Price followed a walk by serving up a two-run home run to Ryan Garko. Then, after a strikeout, he walked two more hitters. That was it, as he had hit 100 pitches, only 57 of them for strikes. Yep, the former first-round draft pick needed only two more outs to qualify for a win and figured to get it since the Rays were up 10-2, but manager Joe Maddon wisely went to the bullpen. It wouldn't be the last time he'd do that.
Anyway, the final line for Price doesn't look so hot, even though he permitted only two runs. He gave up four hits in 3 1/3 innings, walked five and struck out six. He shouldn't have been nervous for a May game at Cleveland's Progressive Field, since he thrived at age 23 in the postseason last season and pitched in the World Series. That reputation might have worked against fantasy owners Monday. Consider that Price was owned in nearly 90 percent of ESPN standard mixed leagues -- 10 teamers -- before he even pitched. That's unique. Then again, unless you're in one of my leagues, I hope you didn't have the southpaw active. Personally, I don't activate pitchers in their first start of the season in May, whether it's a minor league promotion or coming off a DL stint. Of recent note, I left pitchers Luke Hochevar, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kris Medlen on the bench, and even before reading colleague Tristan Cockcroft's words of caution in Monday's Out of the Box, I wouldn't have activated Price.
Of course, I do see great things in Price's future, once he cuts down on the walks. He should be special, although now maybe everyone won't view the fact that he stayed in the minors for nearly two months as just a service time issue. Maybe he really needed the work and still does.
What happened later in this game still has my head spinning. The Rays led 10-0 into the bottom of the fourth and 10-4 into the bottom of the ninth. Grant Balfour served up Garko's second home run of the night to make it 10-8, giving Maddon the chance to show off his new closer, now that nominal saves guru Troy Percival is on the DL and pondering retirement. Joe Nelson pitched the seventh inning, so maybe Maddon didn't think he'd need a closer on this night. Balfour didn't enter in a save situation, but now his ERA is 5.75. Who came next, with a two-run lead and needing one out to save the game?
Believe it or not, Jason Isringhausen got the call. It didn't go well. It would have been the third consecutive day of pitching for Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell, but is that really a large price to pay in a momentum-killer of a loss like this? Isringhausen was summoned, and he was wild, really wild, as he entered with a man on first base and walked the first three hitters, making the score 10-9. Up next was Victor Martinez, and he singled up the middle to win the game 11-10. The last time a team made up a 10-0 deficit and won was more than five years ago.
There will be more about the Rays in Wednesday's Relief Efforts column, but I think we all can agree Isringhausen probably is not going to receive the next save chance. Look for a rested Wheeler or Nelson to inherit the role.
• There are plenty of others who clearly aren't healthy. White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin might have a DL stint in his immediate future. He's been dealing with plantar fasciitis for weeks, which certainly hasn't helped his .223 batting average. Quentin doubled in a run in the first inning Monday but limped to second base and had to be helped off the field as the injury flared up.
• Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was again missing from the lineup, and the team reports a decision on whether he'll be placed on the DL will be made by Friday. Didn't we hear this previously with Carlos Delgado? Reyes and his sore right calf have missed most of the previous 10 games, but not all of them, so a DL stint can be backdated only so far. Replacement Ramon Martinez is hitting .077.
• Alex Rodriguez heard plenty of boos as he returned to Texas for the first time since admitting earlier this year he had used steroids while playing for the Rangers, but they didn't seem to bother him, as he went 5-for-5 and knocked in a season-best four runs. Rodriguez entered Monday with 10 hits on the season and a .189 batting average, but seven of the hits were home runs. Now he's hitting .259, which looks a lot more promising.
• One of my favorite pitchers this season has been Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, but he didn't pitch well in Cincinnati on Monday. Luckily for fantasy owners, a scorer's change took five earned runs off the board and made the runs unearned, so Rodriguez's ERA dropped to 1.71. His WHIP went up quite a bit, however, with 10 hits and two walks allowed in four messy innings. See, it's all about perspective. Aaron Harang also permitted 10 hits but won the game with five less-messy innings. All three of the runs he gave up were earned, though.
• In the case of the Angels' Ervin Santana, earned runs clearly were a problem in start No. 3 of his season, as the White Sox touched him for seven runs and nine hits in one inning-plus of work. Santana served up a three-run homer to Jermaine Dye and threw 41 pitches to retire three. After the game, he said, "Every time they saw a white thing, they just hit it." That seems pretty accurate. Keep Santana active in fantasy leagues and assume it was just a bad night.
• Pirates closer Matt Capps took a Geovany Soto line drive off his pitching elbow in the ninth inning, and X-rays were negative. It's possible Capps will have to miss a few games or need a DL stint, but it's just too early to tell. Lefty Sean Burnett finished up for his first save, but it's likely John Grabow, who earned his sixth hold in the game, would replace Capps as closer.
Freddy Sanchez, Pirates
The Pittsburgh second baseman became the second player in the past 75 seasons to register six or more hits in a Memorial Day game (Paul LoDuca in 2001 was the other), adding a home run, three RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base (his fourth of the season) to the tally in the Pirates' win. Sanchez raised his batting average from .297 to .320.
Phil Hughes, Yankees
The hard-throwing right-hander entered Monday with a 7.06 ERA and in danger of losing his rotation spot this week to Chien-Ming Wang, then threw eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball, striking out six. It might be tough to move Hughes back to the minors until he falters again.
Justin Verlander mowed down the Royals on Monday, fanning eight over seven shutout innings. If he were doing this to start the season, we'd call him Zach Greinke, but has anyone noticed the Tigers right-hander is 5-0 in his past six starts with a whopping 60 strikeouts and a sub-1.00 ERA? Randy Johnson is the only other active pitcher to have a stretch this good in his career.
• The news on Iwamura's Japanese countryman Kenji Johjima was mild in comparison. Johjima broke his left big toe on a play at the plate Monday, and will be placed on the DL and miss at least a few weeks. Johjima homered in his only at-bat, his third round-tripper of the season. Rob Johnson replaced him and should see regular time, and Jamie Burke is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
• Finally, some good news! The Angels welcomed Vladimir Guerrero back to the lineup, activating the slugger from the DL and batting him third. Guerrero went hitless in four at-bats as the designated hitter, and he's not expected to play the field for a while after missing five weeks with a torn pectoral muscle in his chest. Fantasy owners should activate Guerrero right away.
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Jayson Stark: I'll vote yes on that. I keep hearing scouts and hitters describe him as a young John Smoltz. That's good enough for me.
-- Full chat transcript
Pierre Becquey: Yeah, I'm eating a bunch of crow on that one. I think I've got a feather stuck in my teeth. I do think he's still a top-25 pitcher. The skill is still there, it's not like he's got Kazmir-ian problems. He just has to figure out how to make do with his arsenal, which still contains a fastball with movement and a very good changeup.
-- Full chat transcript
Tuesday's fantasy chat schedule:
• The Mariners' Triple-A team in Tacoma scored 12 runs in a rout of Nashville, with a number of players of potential fantasy interest thriving. Designated hitter Jeff Clement -- catcher eligible -- singled three times, upping his batting average to .302. April 2006 hero Chris Shelton -- playing third base -- doubled twice and raised his average to .303. First baseman Bryan LaHair -- slugging a Branyan-like .538 -- had four hits and knocked in two runs. Finally, if you're wondering what happened to former White Sox speedster Jerry Owens, he's in Tacoma, running. He stole his eighth base. Any of these Rainiers could be in Seattle at some point.
• Now that Alexei Ramirez is hitting for the White Sox (four hits, three RBIs, three runs Monday), it quells the rumors that prospect Gordon Beckham will take over at shortstop this season. In fact, Beckham has been playing some third base for Double-A Birmingham, which should worry floundering Josh Fields a bit. Beckham's bat looks ready, as he knocked in five runs Monday on three hits, including a home run. He's hitting .307 for the Barons with a .882 OPS. Incidentally, once-potential Padre Aaron Poreda (from the failed Jake Peavy deal) tossed six strong innings, evening his record at 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA.
• Many eyes from the New York metropolitan area and beyond will be on the game in Arlington, Texas, as Joba Chamberlain faces Kevin Millwood. Chamberlain retired two hitters in his most recent outing, against the Orioles, leaving when an Adam Jones line drive deflected off his right knee. Chamberlain said immediately after that game that he would make his next start, and it appears he was correct. Millwood is in the top 10 in the American League in ERA and WHIP, yet remains unowned in nearly a third of ESPN leagues.
• Kris Medlen of the Atlanta Braves is making his second start and hoping it goes better than his first, in which he combined to walk and hit six batters in three messy innings of a 9-0 loss. Good luck, kid, you're facing Tim Lincecum, fourth in baseball in strikeouts and with one loss in nine starts. I wouldn't have used Medlen last week in fantasy, nor will I here.
• For more on Tuesday's games, check out Daily Notes.