David Price chalked up his first loss of the season as simply a bad day.
Given his tendency to bounce back from rough performances in 2013, that could spell trouble for the Minnesota Twins.
Price looks to guide the Tampa Bay Rays to a 12th win in 13 meetings with the Twins in Tuesday night’s series opener at Tropicana Field.
Price (2-1, 4.39 ERA) was knocked around for six runs and 10 hits – including two homers – in five innings of a 10-2 loss to the Yankees on Thursday. He had limited opponents to seven runs in his first 21 2-3 innings of the season before snapping a seven-start regular-season unbeaten streak.
"This is one start," Price said. "I know you guys blow it up to be a lot more than it really is, but everybody’s going to have their bad days. I had mine."
The left-hander’s worst three earned run totals allowed last season were 8, 6 and 5. In his outings immediately following those starts, he posted a 2.45 ERA while striking out 22 batters in as many innings.
He’s 2-2 with a 2.66 ERA in seven career games – six starts – against the Twins. He didn’t record a decision in a 6-4 loss at Minnesota on Sept. 15 – which snapped Tampa Bay’s 11-game winning streak in the series – after allowing two runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings.
The Twins (9-9) counter with Kyle Gibson (3-0, 0.93). The right-hander has been a revelation through his first three starts given his struggles as a rookie in 2013, when he went 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 10 outings.
Gibson looked his best yet in a 7-0 win over Toronto on Thursday, yielding four hits and a walk over eight innings in the first scoreless start of his career.
He was charged with four runs in six innings of a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on July 9 in his third major league outing.
The Rays (9-10) will try to get their bats going again after a 5-1 loss in 12 innings to the Yankees on Sunday. They had totaled 32 hits while outscoring New York 27-6 in back-to-back victories following Price’s loss in the series opener.
Tampa Bay managed six hits Sunday and struck out 14 times after fanning 10 times over the previous two contests. Matt Joyce’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly provided the lone run.
"We’ve been swinging the bats so well and today we were just minus," manager Joe Maddon said. "There’s really no solid explanation."
Minnesota avoided a sweep Sunday with an 8-3 win in Kansas City. The Twins were 6 for 14 with runners in scoring position after going 6 for 34 in their previous four games.
Joe Mauer is still trying to snap out of a slow start to the season, hitting .257 and going 2 for 16 over his last four games, with one of those hits an infield single. He struck out twice for the second straight game Sunday and has already struck out twice or more eight times through 18 contests. Mauer struck out twice or more 18 times in 113 games in 2013.
His .374 career average versus Tampa Bay is his highest against any American League club, though he’s just 2 for 14 off Price. That .143 average is tied for the 11th-lowest among the 144 pitchers whom he has faced at least 10 times.