Price puts long-held approach to work for Blue Jays

Price puts long-held approach to work for Blue Jays

NEW YORK -- Hanging in David Price's locker is a handwritten note that serves as a daily reminder for the mentality he wants to have on the mound: "If you don't like it, pitch better."

The motto is something that was handed down from his days at Tampa Bay. It speaks to his approach. But, contrary to the message, there has been a lot to like lately -- and Price was at it again on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, throwing seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Price was his typical dominant self, scattering three hits and three walks en route to his second consecutive victory in a Blue Jays uniform. Overall, he has surrendered two runs or fewer in 13 of his last 15 outings, and his latest victory brought Toronto within 2 1/2 games of New York for first place in the American League East.

"It's something we always said in Tampa [Bay]," Price said, after his sixth scoreless start of the season. "It's something James Shields would always say, whether it's going good, whether it's going bad. I've had guys text me, [when I've been] taken out after seven innings and 90 pitches. Look, if you don't like it, pitch better. Go seven innings and 80 pitches, and you're out there for the eighth. It goes if you're throwing the ball [well] or if you're throwing the ball not so well."

Price entered Saturday's outing looking to overcome some of his previous struggles against the Yankees. He allowed eight runs in each of his last two outings vs. New York -- and if those problems continued, the narrative would have received even more attention down the stretch.

Smoak's grand slam

The 29-year-old doesn't have to worry about any of that now. He pitched with ease, even though both sides were locked in a scoreless game until Justin Smoak broke the game wide open in the sixth with his first career grand slam. Price struck out seven and had just two runners reach scoring position.

But the question is, did he like it?

"I liked it. [I] could have pitched better, but I'll take that today," Price said. "I've thrown games better than that and I've lost, that's baseball, that's part of it. But I'm definitely happy with what happened today."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.