Tampa Bay's David Price tries to bounce back from a rare bad performance on Sunday when the Rays wrap up a four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Price absorbed the loss on Monday in Texas, as the Rangers ripped him for six runs and 10 hits in only four innings, denying him the chance to be the American League's first 17-game winner. Price slipped to 16-5 on the year to go along with a 2.53 ERA.
"They started hitting balls over the fence and driving balls into the gap," Price said. "That's what changed. I've had a lot of hard-hit balls the last month and a half and they go right at guys. Tonight that wasn't the case. I felt like every ball they put in play and was going to get down or find a hole. They hit a lot of balls hard."
Price, who had been 8-0 with a 1.56 ERA in his previous 12 starts, stands a good chance of getting back into the win column in the finale, as he has already beaten the Jays twice this season and is 11-2 with a 2.26 ERA in 14 starts against them.
Also working in Price's favor is that the pitcher he will be going up against, lefty Ricky Romero, hasn't won since beating the Miami Marlins back on June 22, and owns a 7.16 ERA over that span.
Romero, an All-Star last season, has lost his last four starts and his last 11 decisions, with his previous win against an American League team coming against Chicago back on June 5. The 11-game losing streak is now a single- season franchise record and the longest in the AL this year.
He pitched well enough to get the win on Tuesday in New York, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings, but the Jays only managed to push one across.
"I felt aggressive, I definitely did," Romero said. "I felt like I was out there and I put everything away that I've worked on, and let it come naturally. That's what I did."
In Romero's past 10 starts, Toronto has managed to score a total of 17 runs -- including four consecutive shutouts from July 7-25.
Romero is 6-4 lifetime versus the Rays with a 3.49 ERA in 12 starts.
Tampa won for only the second time in eight tries on Saturday, as Matt Joyce's eighth-inning homer was the deciding run, and B.J. Upton threw out Omar Vizquel at the plate to end the game in the Rays' 5-4 victory.
Joyce finished with two hits and three RBI for the Rays, while Ryan Roberts also homered for the victors.
Wade Davis (2-0) picked up the win after 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Activated from the 60-day disabled list prior to the game, starter Jeff Niemann didn't make it through the fourth inning. He allowed one hit and fanned four over 3 1/3 innings before departing with tightness in his right arm.
"I wasn't able to throw with any kind of comfort," Niemann said. "Since it was my first start back, I thought I would just take a precautionary view. We'll see how it feels tomorrow."
Fernando Rodney earned his 40th save by recording the final five outs of the contest, helped by Upton's toss home to Jose Molina on a single from Colby Rasmus.
"I knew I had a pretty good line on the throw," Upton admitted. "I was hoping it wasn't too high. Luckily it wasn't. He got it while it was up a little bit."
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and Adam Lind also drove in two for the Jays, whose three-game win streak came to an end.
Henderson Alvarez (7-12) was charged in the loss for five hits and four runs with four walks in five full frames.
The Blue Jays are 4-10 against Tampa Bay this season.