ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price has long established himself as one of baseball’s premier strike throwers.
On Friday night, he earned a career milestone that shows how dominant he has become throughout his seven seasons in the majors.
Price reached 1,000 career strikeouts in the top of the second inning of the Rays’ 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field, when he caught designated hitter Chris Carter looking with a 94-mph fastball on a 0-2 count for the first out after a leadoff double by catcher Jason Castro. A standing ovation from most of the 13,961 in attendance followed.
"It’s cool — it is, absolutely, can’t deny that — but it stinks," Price said afterward, his thoughts turning to the Rays’ latest loss, which dropped them to 29-46, the worst in the majors. "You want to win out there. Our team wants to win, and we’re not doing that right now, so it’s frustrating. It was cool. It’d been probably better if it had been my third out. I mean, I had a runner in scoring position … so it’s not the time I want to take and thank everybody for cheering."
Reaching 1,000 strikeouts has become a rarity for Rays pitchers. Right-hander James Shields, now with the Kansas City Royals, was the only other Tampa Bay player to reach the mark on his way to finishing with 1,250 here. Price achieved the milestone in his 168th career appearance (163rd start) and career inning No. 1,082. Shields, meanwhile, did the same in his 180th career appearance (179th start) and career inning No. 1,185.
In addition, Price set a team record Friday when he earned his fourth consecutive double-digit strikeout game by fanning 12 in eight innings. He became the first in the majors to achieve the feat since Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester did so from Aug. 26-Sept. 13, 2010. Price has seven double-digit strikeout games this season, a major-league high.
"I’ve been able to see, obviously, close-up the natural progression, the strike-thrower, that he’s turned into, the development of other pitches on a major-league level, which a lot of guys cannot do," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "His curveball as an example, his changeup as an example, his cutter, all kind of like came to the party a little bit later in regards to their effectiveness, and it’s something he’s learned here.
"He’s probably pitching as good as he can, and I think he has."
Price is 5-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 16 starts this season. His latest milestone became another reminder of his efficiency.
"I appreciate everybody that cheered," Price said.