ST. PETERSBURG -- Now comes the uncertainty for David Price, a pitcher in high demand with free agency looming at season's end and contending teams waiting to talk if the Tigers decide to deal. But that's a matter for another day with him.
As Price stood in front of his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field and answered questions about a rough outing against his old squad and a 10-2 Tigers loss to the Rays Tuesday night, his frustration was evident.
A day after talking about the Tigers controlling their Trade Deadline fate with their play, the Rays roughed him up to help send Detroit to its fifth loss in six games. The former, he said, had "zero effect" to do with the latter.
Price has pitched in front of plenty of scouts before, including this time last year. They hadn't seen him like this in a while.
"I didn't control what I can control tonight," Price said. "That's throwing the baseball the way I'm capable of throwing it. I didn't do that, and to me that's the worst."
He called this the worst he has thrown a baseball in close to two months. Statistically, it was his worst outing in longer than that, since at least early May when the Royals roughed him up in Detroit. His five earned runs marked his second-highest total all season, trailing only the eight runs the Yankees scored against him in April.
Price threw some of his worst changeups in several starts, he said, including the one that Curt Casali hit out for the first of his two home runs. His curveball wasn't much better. His struggles with individual pitches seemed to leave him and catcher James McCann struggling to find a rhythm on how to attack hitters while working together for the 13th time in 14 outings.
The effect was everything that he is not as a pitcher: Long innings, long at-bats, struggles with damage, and a Tigers' slide that continues.
"He's pitched outstanding, but even the best have games like this," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Unfortunately for us, the timing isn't great, but David is one of the best in the game. He just was a tick off tonight, and we ran into Curt Casali the last couple nights."
Price was a bit harsher on himself. Considering some hard-luck results from good outings, he was arguably due for the reverse. That wasn't his thought.
"Tonight was all on me," Price said. "I didn't do my job, and that's part of it. I'll take that."
It's the role of an ace, and he accepted it. With the Tigers now teetering, so does his situation.
He'll be ready again in five days, he said. Where he'll be preparing to pitch is anyone's guess. For Tuesday, though, he wasn't worried about other teams.
"This team is better than this," he said. "Period. I've got nothing else. This team is better than this."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.