ST. PETERSBURG -- B.J. Upton's old-school look turned out to be quite fashionable in the Rays' 6-0 win over the Indians on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field with 27,856 fans watching.
By winning, the Rays came away with a hard-earned split with the Indians, who are card-carrying members of the American League Central -- the division that has owned the Rays this season. Ace David Price notched his 13th win, most in the AL and tied for the Major League lead.
The Rays are 48-45 while improving to 8-16 against Central teams this season.
Wearing the high stirrups of another era, Upton brought to mind former Major Leaguer Frank Robinson, who fashioned the same look in the '60s and '70s. But Upton's bat proved to be the most reminiscent of the Hall of Famer, particularly in the sixth inning when he ripped a three-run double off Ubaldo Jimenez to break open what had been a close game.
"B.J., before he went up there, I said, 'Frank Robby right there,'" Rays manager Joe Maddon said, noting how nice the sixth-inning rally was, since it came with two outs. "... Finally a two-out moment came back to us. Two-out, nobody on, that really was a big part of the game."
Jimenez said he threw Upton a slider that "got too much of the plate."
"I was trying to make it break to the outside part, but it just backed up," Jimenez said. "... He's a really good hitter. The thing is, he's hacking, especially with runners on base. But he's a really good hitter."
Carlos Pena singled to drive home Upton, giving Price breathing room, even though the Rays' stylish southpaw gave no indication of needing more than the one run that Luke Scott provided when he homered off Jimenez in the third.
Scott's 12th home run of the season gave the Rays a 1-0 lead. Given the way Price mixed his curveball with an overpowering fastball, the one-run lead looked larger.
Price continued to pound the strike zone, adding zeros to his line along the way. Not until the fifth, when he walked Carlos Santana leading off the inning, did he even sniff trouble. Jose Lopez then stroked a single to center for the Indians' first hit of the afternoon, putting runners at first and second with no outs.
Price remained calm and did not appear to get flustered in the least as he got back to work. First, he struck out Shelley Duncan swinging before Jose Molina threw out Santana trying to steal third for the second out. After issuing his second walk of the inning, Price retired Aaron Cunningham on a fly out to Upton in center to end the threat.
Price allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings.
"David was outstanding," Maddon said. "Once again, he had great command of his fastball, started mixing in some other things. But fastball command was incredible, the velocity -- a lot of 97s and 98s where he wanted to throw it. That's what really makes it even better."
Price said his fastball has "gotten better."
"I've gotten more velocity, it's consistent through the entire game," Price said. "My curveball's better and my cutter is more consistent right now. I throw my changeup whenever I need to, and that makes it a little bit tougher for those guys."
Price is 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA against the Indians. He has struck out 42 in 38 1/3 innings.
"My first start [against the Indians], I went 3 1/3 [innings] against them," Price said. "It was my first start in the big leagues and couldn't make it through four. I don't know. I've had some OK games there, and I guess I've had some pretty good ones here. I don't think I've started against them that many times, but it's a good hitting team, and we've been able to play good baseball against them."
At the end of Thursday afternoon, the Rays' clubhouse had a glow and the only lingering question was whether the retro style would stay. Upton, along with Sean Rodriguez and Jeff Keppinger, all fashioned the retro look on Thursday.
"They broke [the socks out] early and I saw them in my chair," said Upton, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles on the afternoon. "And I'm like, 'I'm not going to be the only guy wearing these.' So I came out of the training room, and I saw that Kep had them on and Sean, too. So I'm like, 'I'm going to wear them.'"
Despite his success, Upton isn't sure if Rays a la Frank Robinson is a fashion that is going to stick.
"Man, I don't know," Upton said. "I don't know if I can look like that every day."
Pena had another opinion.
"He better wear them again tomorrow," Pena said.
Added clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland, who understands the whims of fashion when success accompanies a new look: "I'm ready for [more requests for the high stirrups]. I've got some back there, might have to order some more."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.