The Rays had lots of reasons to feel good when lefty David Price took the mound.
But they like it even better now that Price has started to mix his pitches more.
And the success he's having by doing so.
Price followed up his five-hit complete game win over the Angels with a solid Sunday outing against the Rangers, working into the seventh while holding the power Rangers to two runs in what ended up a 5-2 Tampa Bay win.
The key has been more liberal use -- with confidence and conviction -- of off-speed pitches, a change-up, a curveball and a cutter. Which, of course, makes his mid-90s fastball even more effective.
The result paid off Sunday as Price beat the Rangers for the first time in his career.
--RHP Jeremy Hellickson starts at home on Monday against Seattle, which historically has been a good thing on two counts. Hellickson is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA in two starts at home this season, yielding only eight hits, and in his last 10 starts at home is 6-1 with a 2.24 ERA. Overall, he is 10-5 with a 2.30 ERA at the Trop. In three starts against Seattle, Hellickson is 3-0 with a 0.81 ERA.
--RHP Jeff Niemann was encouraged after his Saturday night start at Texas in how he was able to regroup after a rough first inning, allowing two runs to the Rangers with the first three hitters reaching, then only one other run, and unearned at that, while working into the sixth. "To be able to turn the tide and not let it snowball on us, it's a good thing," he said.
--RHP James Shields matched the Rays' franchise record shared by RHP Matt Garza (2010) and RHP Andy Sonnanstine (2008) for most wins in the month of April with four. He also improved to 15-4 (.789), which is the best career record of any active pitcher in the month with a minimum 15 starts.
--RHP Wade Davis said his transition from starter to reliever has been easiest when he is on the mound, as he showed Friday in Texas. "I'm able to be relaxed on the mound when I get out there," he said. "In between times, it's the more mental prep and physical prep ... I'm going to have to get used to. But as far as getting into the game and getting relaxed, it's been a pretty easy adjustment."
--1B/OF Brandon Allen made his first start for the Rays on Saturday in left field, a combination of manager Joe Maddon wanting to give CF B.J. Upton a day off and to give Allen a full night of action to keep him sharp for pinch-hitting duty. Allen went 0-for-4.
--C Nevin Ashley, who may have been next in line had the Rays needed more catching help in the majors, sustained a broken right hand in a game for Class AAA Durham on Friday and is expected to be out four-to-six weeks.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1,220 -- Players to reach 1,000 career hits before 1B Carlos Pena did, on a home run.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This team is just great to be around. It really does bring out the best in everybody." -- RHP Brandon Gomes, on the confident clubhouse atmosphere.