ST. PETERSBURG -- What happened Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field might have been a best-case scenario for the Rays and their fans: David Price, their former ace, pitched an incredible game, but Tampa Bay still won.
Turned out, it was also a little bit of baseball history.
The Rays beat Price and the Tigers, 1-0, despite recording only one hit. Price, traded from Tampa Bay to Detroit three weeks ago, struck out nine and didn't walk any of his former teammates in the eight-inning, complete-game effort with only one unearned run, permitted in the first inning.
"That's something you don't see every day," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. "He did everything that he could've done."
No kidding. How rare was that?
Very rare. It was the first time since at least 1914 that a pitcher has lost a complete-game, one-hit, no-walk start without allowing an earned run.
According to baseball-reference.com, Price is the first pitcher in the Majors to lose a complete-game one-hitter or better with no earned runs since Andy Hawkins lost a no-hitter for the Yankees on July 1, 1990. The only other pitcher to do it in the last 40 years was Texas knuckleballer Charlie Hough on June 16, 1986.
It was the first time Price has ever lost a game despite not allowing an earned run. The last Tiger to do so was Justin Verlander on April 27, 2010. And Detroit lost while allowing one hit or less for the first time since records are available.
So, yeah, it's been a while.
So, Price lost his best start ever?
He thinks so. Asked afterward if it was as well as he's ever pitched in a loss, Price called it "as good as I've pitched in a game that went my way." He didn't find himself in a single three-ball count. He threw 100 pitches in eight innings. It was his 11th complete game and the lowest hit total of his career.
Price is the first Tigers pitcher to lose a complete-game one-hitter since records have been available and the first pitcher in the Majors to do so since St. Louis' Anthony Reyes on June 22, 2006.
How'd he lose, then?
Ben Zobrist reached on a throwing error by Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez, then Brandon Guyer took advantage of Price's only mistake of the day and lined it to the gap in right-center field for an RBI triple.
"It's weird. I've never seen a win like that," Guyer said. "Sometimes one run's all that matters."
After that, Price retired 23 of his former teammates in a row. But Rays starter Alex Cobb pitched seven outstanding innings -- he's allowed two runs or fewer in eight straight starts, a franchise record and the second-longest streak in the Majors this season behind Mariners ace Felix Hernandez (17) -- and the one-two bullpen punch of Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee took care of the eighth and ninth innings.
Got anything else?
This was the first 1-0 game ever played between these two teams. It was the second-lowest hit total in a game played between these two clubs -- and you might remember the other one: Matt Garza's no-hitter on July 26, 2010.
The Rays are just the eighth team to ever win a game with only one hit and two or fewer baserunners, and they're only the fourth team to do it without hitting a home run.
Wait. Haven't the Rays lost a game like this before?
Glad you asked! In fact, the Rays lost to the A's, 3-2, on May 21 despite allowing only one hit. They are the first team to win and lose such a game in the same season since the 1915 St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League.
"We've already lost a game like that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So touche to baseball."