David Price is going to have to win 20 games if the Tampa Bay Rays have any aspirations to repeat as AL East Champions.

In Friday night’s 8-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, he got put to the test and fell short…very short. It brought his record to 3-3.

“I didn’t play very well at all,” Price said in reference to his outing. “You know, our offense did a great job, gave me some runs early and that’s all I can ask for, and we played good defense. I just didn’t throw the ball very well and the mistakes I made, they hit them.”

“That’s why you get 33 starts. I didn’t beat myself, they beat me.”

It was Price’s worst outing since getting pulled after 1.1 innings against the Texas Rangers in 2009 when he allowed six earned runs and walked five batters.

Price threw 98 pitches and gave up five earned runs in 4.1 innings of work against Angels. His performance tied his shortest career outing at Tropicana Field.

He allowed a career-high 12 hits.  His previous career high for hits allowed was 10 on two occasions.

During the Rays‘ 13-3 run, starters threw for seven or more innings in 12 of the 16 games. They also held opponents to a .209 average during that stretch.

The weakest link by far for the 2011 Rays is the bullpen. The team has been able to compensate with losses at the other positions by having players like Sam Fuld step in and perform beyond expectation.

Cesar Ramos entered Friday night’s game with the Rays trailing by a run. He was quickly pulled after 0.1 innings, allowing two earned runs and increasing the deficit to three.

During the team’s five-game win streak, Rays relievers only threw 106 pitches. On Friday night, they threw 98 pitches in 4.2 innings.

“You won’t see David with that kind of performance very often,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said about Price’s performance. “David is such a professional and that’s the thing with a guy like that—he’s not a machine. Everybody expects him to be almost perfect on a nightly basis.”

“Overall, David just wasn’t on tonight and that’s a big part of our problem tonight.”

The Rays will have a big problem for the season if Price isn’t on enough to get 20 wins.

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