"I never had any question who's going to be the Cy Young winner," manager Joe Maddon said on Wednesday, a night after Price struck out a season-high 13 in a complete-game win over the Red Sox, 5-2. "And I think really hopefully put an exclamation point on it. I still, with [closer Fernando Rodney], I'd love to see Fernando get his rightful share of votes also. But again, I think it's a starting pitcher's award unless you really go over the top save-wise. And that would have to be at least 50, I'd say, 50-plus saves might get you in the conversation."
Price's 2.56 ERA leads the Majors and he's tied with the Angels' Jered Weaver for the most wins in the American League, 19. Price joined not only the 200-inning club on Tuesday, but the 200-strikeout club as well, and it's the latter that put him and teammate James Shields in rare company.
Only seven teammates in Major League history previously had reached 200 strikeouts in back-to-back seasons: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale with the Dodgers (1962-65), Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson with the D-backs (2001-02), Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana with the Angels (1976-77), Eddie Plank and Rube Wadell (1904-05) with the Philadelphia A's, Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell with the Indians (1967-68) and Mickey Lolich and Joe Coleman with the Tigers (1971-73).
"I think I gave him the biggest hug [Tuesday] after his inning," Shields said. "I didn't want to distract him too much from throwing that complete game, but it means a lot to us. It's pretty special to do it with a guy like him. He's one of my good friends in baseball. How hard we've worked over the last couple years, it's been pretty amazing to watch. Being from L.A., I definitely love Koufax and Drysdale, they're [among] my favorite pitchers of all-time. To be named in the same category as them, it's pretty special."
Like Maddon, Shields has no doubt who should win the AL Cy Young Award.
"David Price, no doubt," said Shields, who's 15-9 with a 3.65 ERA. "As far as I'm concerned, I think Fernando's going to come in second as far as my opinion. But I mean, pick your position between the two of them. Fernando's done an amazing job this year, but the way that David's pitched in all games, the way he's pitched in big games ... From my perspective it's going to be David."
Price was just the second pitcher since 1918 to throw a complete game at Fenway Park with 13 or more strikeouts and zero walks. Only one other Rays pitcher had struck out 13 and walked none in an outing: Scott Kazmir, on Aug. 25, 2007.
Rodney's 2-2 with an 0.64 ERA in 71 games and 44-for-46 in save opportunities. Maddon lamented that Rodney could've had more saves if he were on a team with a stronger offense.