Rays ace David Price feels better than he ever has as April turns to May.
"I don't feel like I've thrown the ball as efficiently this early in the year, ever," Price said. "I mean, I feel really good on the mound. I have a ton of confidence out there."
As Price takes the hill against the Yankees on Friday night, however, he is waiting for his numbers to follow suit. Although the southpaw feels good physically, his ERA has climbed to 4.75 as he has given up 15 earned runs on 25 hits in his past three outings.
"For about 90 percent of the time I'm out there, I execute extremely well," Price said. "So it's just making sure I can continue to execute out there every pitch and then I think I'll be on to something pretty good."
Price has shown off his trademark talent in three quality starts this season, striking out 28 batters and giving up only six runs in 24 2/3 innings, accounting for all three of his wins.
Price landed on the opposite end of the spectrum in his other three starts, going 0-2 with an 8.47 ERA. Against the Yankees on April 17 at Tropicana Field, Price gave up six earned runs on 10 hits in five innings in a 10-2 loss.
"This is one start; everybody's going to have their bad days," Price said following the game. "We didn't have a particularly good day as a team today. So be it."
The Yankees' offense has ticked up since roughing up Price, averaging more than five runs per game since April 17. However, New York's bats could be in for a rude awakening if Price can match his past success on Friday.
In 36 career starts in American League East road parks, Price is 22-3 with a 3.16 ERA. The only visiting park where he has more wins than the five he has recorded at the new Yankee Stadium is Fenway Park, where he has six.
Despite his up-and-down April, Price remains confident.
"Feel good with the way I'm throwing the ball for the most part, right now," Price said. "I'm continuing to work hard. Body feels good. ... Expect different results tomorrow."
Yankees: Nuno hopes to stifle Rays again
With Michael Pineda currently suspended due to a foreign substance on his neck and Ivan Nova having Tommy John surgery, Vidal Nuno is working to remain in pinstripes.
In two starts for New York, the left-hander has surrendered three earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. His first start, which came against Tampa Bay on April 20, saw him pitch five scoreless frames in an eventual Yankees victory.
"Every day is an opportunity, just showing I can belong here and get people out," Nuno said following the outing.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was not so impressed after a 5-1 loss in 12 innings, saying, "There really is no solid explanation. I can't stand here and say that the Yankees pitched that great. We just did not have a good offensive day."
Despite his solid start in the rotation, Nuno needs to work on whittling down his pitch count. He was pulled after 69 pitches in five innings on April 20 and 72 pitches after 4 1/3 innings on April 26.
Rays: A Hard Day's Night
Tampa Bay pitchers threw a combined 198 pitches Tuesday night at Fenway Park, an average of 24.8 pitches per inning, the most in a Major League game this season and the most since July 30 when the Angels threw an average of 25.3 in a 14-11 loss to the Rangers. It was the 10th-most pitches per inning for a game in club history and the highest since an 11-10 loss on May 25, 2009, in Cleveland, a game in which the Rays blew a 10-0 lead.
• Derek Jeter has faced Price more than any of his other teammates and is batting .302 (16-for-53) with two doubles, two home runs, four RBIs, eight walks and eight doubles in his career against the left-hander.
• Rays right fielder Wil Myers saw his seven-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-3 performance at the plate in Game 1 of Thursday's twin bill vs. the Red Sox.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.