David Price couldn't ask for a better opponent to face as he tries to bounce back from his worst start of the season.
The left-hander will take the mound Tuesday night when the visiting Tampa Bay Rays conclude a two-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, a team Price has dominated like no other in his career.Since breaking into the majors in 2008, Price has posted 10 of his 46 wins versus Toronto, and his 2.13 ERA in 13 starts against the Blue Jays is his best versus any opponent he's made more than five starts against.That success continued April 18 as Price (5-2, 2.98 ERA) allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings of a 12-2 victory, improving to 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts at Rogers Centre."I feel good pitching here," Price said. "It's a dome, just like it is back at home."That outing was the first of four straight wins for Price in which he gave up five runs over 29 innings, but that good fortune came to an end in his last start Thursday.Price allowed season highs of 11 hits and five runs over seven innings of a 5-3 loss in New York. He also gave up two homers after yielding one in his first six starts."I made some good pitches tonight, they hit them, that's it," Price said.That hasn't been the case for many Toronto players when facing Price, but Jose Bautista is batting .357 (10 for 28) with four home runs when stepping into the batter's box against him.Price will be opposed by 22-year-old Henderson Alvarez (3-2, 2.61), who is looking to win his fourth straight start. He has a 0.82 ERA over his last three outings and 1.24 over his past four since the Rays roughed him up April 19.The right-hander allowed a career-high six runs over 6 1/3 innings of a 9-4 home loss, falling to 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA in two starts versus Tampa Bay. Alvarez will catch a break Tuesday, though, as Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings -- a combined 7 for 13 with five homers against him -- are on the disabled list.Alvarez allowed one earned run over seven innings to beat Minnesota 6-2 on Thursday."He's very calm and collected out there. He knows how good he is, not in a cocky sense but in how to attack the game and attack hitters and know that he can throw that ball up there and miss spots and still get ground balls," catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "I think he's mature beyond his age, and he's getting better with every start."The Rays (22-14) won their third straight over Toronto on Monday, 7-1, and have taken 10 of the last 13 meetings. Luke Scott and Sean Rodriguez each drove in two runs to help Tampa Bay overcome a fractured right leg to starter Jeff Niemann and register consecutive victories following a 1-6 stretch."We've been bitten a little bit to this point," manager Joe Maddon said. "We're constantly having our depth tested."The Blue Jays (19-17) have lost two straight and six of nine."On a night when you're down a little bit offensively, that's where the pitching and defense has got to pick some things up," manager John Farrell said.
David Price has never lost at Rogers Centre (4-0 with one no-decision) with a career ERA of 3.41, though that includes six runs in the no-decision in 2009. In the four most recent starts (the four wins), his ERA in Toronto is 1.88.