No American League starter has gone the distance more often than David Price in 2013, and his fourth complete game couldn't have been more clutch. Price vaulted the Rays into the playoffs last night, limiting the Rangers to seven hits in a 5-2 victory in Game 163 of the season. Now, Tampa will travel to Cleveland for another winner-talk all contest on Wednesday night.
Price has pitched with more finesse than power this season, posting his lowest strikeout rate (7.3 per nine innings pitched) since 2009 but also issuing walks at a career-low 1.3 per nine frames. His pound-the-zone approach was on display last night, as he threw 81 of his 118 pitches (68.6 percent) for strikes.
The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner barely missed any bats, inducing a whiff just four times out of 55 swings (7.3 percent) that Rangers hitters took. But he didn't have to, thanks to outstanding command that generated bushels of ground balls. Check out Price's pitch location versus Texas:
Price's pitch location vs. Rangers, 9/30/13
Tampa's lefty ace tossed 18 percent of his pitches to the horizontal middle of the plate last night, below the 24 percent MLB average for starting pitchers this season and Price's 22 percent average for the year. He also jammed the Rangers' righty-heavy lineup, throwing inside 36 percent of the time (31 percent MLB average for lefty starters, 26 percent overall for Price in 2013).
Locating his stuff in on the hands of Texas hitters, Price induced 14 ground balls last night. That's a winning strategy, considering Rays infielders convert grounders into outs at the second-best clip (76.3 percent of the time) among AL clubs.
Opponent average on ground balls among AL teams, 2013