Counting out certain cats is crazy. David Price proved Monday night that he deflects the bullets of criticism and doubt, and throws peas of passion and high performance in return. He’s an ace of a different breed, as rare as skunk red hair seeds.
Especially in the clutch.
Despite failing to match his 20-5 Cy Young season of 2012, when the cash was on the table, Price was right. The “ Black Aces” member visualized dopeness the night before his Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 in the 163rd game of the year to advance to the AL Wild Card Game against Cleveland on Wednesday night.
He envisioned the inevitable greatness he was destined for since his days growing up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a small town in the Nashville Metropolitan area. While other Tennessee Titans like Three 6 Mafia were blazing dirty, crunked-up Southern rap trails, Price was an Atlanta Braves baseball fan, who had a golden limb and idolized outfielder David Justice.
Price attended Cooperstown Dreams Park when he was a teenager, and now he keeps the dream of black baseball alive. Every big-stage, dominant performance Price throws down resuscitates the fading breath of American-American pitchers in MLB.
Plus, dudes like him and teammate Evan Longoria (whose lumber game is clutch like Montana in a Super Bowl and has more swag in a bag than Donatella Versace has money in the bank) gives Tampa Bay Rays baseball a “cooler” appeal.
They’re exciting additions to the playoffs to say the least, and now that they’ve reached the World Series grind again, anything can happen.
It’s a time when players with the ability to rise in the most visible and important moments have the rare opportunity to immortalize themselves in the annals of MLB lore. Price entered Monday’s tiebreaker with a 10.26 ERA in four starts at Texas, but that didn’t factor in at all on Monday. Price flamed a two-run, seven-hit, complete game in what ranks as an instant classic for Rays fans.
Price was the total package. He didn’t have magical stuff, but was effective and gutsy. That combined with the moment made it epic. Despite a high pitch count, manager Joe Maddon went old school and left his ace in to decide Tampa’s playoff fate.
It’s all about David,” Maddon told NYDailyNews.com. “That was his best game against this club in this park. There’s no way I wanted to take him out.”
Price not only came through, he retired 11 of the last 12 batters to complete the badass performance. He became the first pitcher since AL Leiter in 1999 to throw a complete game in a tiebreaker. He also had four K’s and picked off a runner, and his move to first base led to one of the Ranger being caught stealing. In the eighth inning, Price flashed his leather on an Elvis Andrus bunt and flipped the ball to Loney with his glove for the out.
This isn’t Price’s first trip down the Tampa playoff strip. The Rays drafted Price out of Vanderbilt as the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 MLB Draft and just weeks after arriving in the pros, Price notched a symbolic save in Game 7 of the ALCS, helping Tampa reach its first World Series in 2008. The futile franchise of the past, which was originally built on washed up vets and retreads, now boasts a fresh, young talent pool with the “Black Prince” of pitching flexing his “Three Hs”: Heritage, history and heat.
Price’s early-season triceps injury affected his regular season, but coming through like a true G in a doe-or-die tiebreaker game is proof that Price is entering his playoff zone. He’s going to grab the ball in big spots and push his talents, intelligence and allegiance for brown-skinned, base-brawlers across the globe to the limit.