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Price, Rodney shine despite AL's struggles

Price, Rodney shine despite AL's struggles

Price, Rodney shine despite AL's struggles
KANSAS CITY -- Plenty went wrong for the American League, and especially its pitching staff, in the 83rd All-Star Game on Tuesday. But the pitchers wearing the navy "TB" caps had a pretty good night.

Left-hander David Price, a candidate to start the game, instead pitched third and blitzed through a 1-2-3 third inning. Rays closer Fernando Rodney tossed a clean ninth against a dangerous slate of hitters. The final score was 8-0, National League, but the Rays' contingent did its part.

It wasn't the high-stakes experience they might have been hoping for, but all things considered, it turned out OK. Price was concerned about the adjustment from starting to relieving, but he had no problems, needing all of seven pitches to dispense with Joey Votto, Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey.

"I didn't throw a whole lot of strikes in the bullpen," Price said. "It was a little bit different out there. I usually throw on flat ground before I get up on the mound. Obviously there's really not room to throw on flat ground. It was a little bit different, but it's fine. I was able to make some adjustments."

Ideally, Price would have been the second AL pitcher, not the third. But Justin Verlander struggled mightily in the first inning, needing 35 pitches. That meant Verlander did not pitch a second inning, with Joe Nathan getting that assignment instead.

It led to a natural question, whether Price might have been the right man to start the game. Price was having none of it, though.

"Just a couple balls found some holes and a couple balls were put in the right spot [against Verlander]," he said.

Despite the result, Price was smiling after the game.

"It's fun to go out there and be able to put a zero," he said. "I'm trying to help us win. Obviously I'm throwing to a very good opponent. It was a good experience for me and I had fun."

Rodney, who wore the name "Ulise" on his workout jersey to honor his late father, has been one of baseball's better stories this year. He's enjoying a career year, closing in on a career-high in saves and sporting an ERA below 1.00.

He admitted before the game that it might have been nice to have the break to rest with his family, but allowed afterward that he had no regrets. He loved his first All-Star experience.

"I had a great time," he said. "I enjoyed the moment. My family enjoyed it too. I'm happy to be part of the group of All-Stars we had today. I'm never going to forget that. I'm going to keep it in my memory."

Rodney retired Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Bryan LaHair, all on groundball outs, for a tidy 12-pitch ninth. He kept his composure just as he has with the Rays this season.

"That's everything," he said. "I say win or lose, I'm going to give it the best stuff I have. I've been doing it all season long."

Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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