BOSTON -- Rays ace David Price didn't have to sell his rotation mate and his manager on his American League Cy Young Award candidacy.
"I never had any question who's going to be the Cy Young winner," manager Joe Maddon said on Wednesday, a night after Price struck out a season-high 13 in a complete-game win over the Red Sox, 5-2. "And I think really hopefully put an exclamation point on it. I still, with [closer Fernando Rodney], I'd love to see Fernando get his rightful share of votes also. But again, I think it's a starting pitcher's award unless you really go over the top save-wise. And that would have to be at least 50, I'd say, 50-plus saves might get you in the conversation."
Price's 2.56 ERA leads the Majors and he's tied with the Angels' Jered Weaver for the most wins in the American League, 19. Price joined not only the 200-inning club on Tuesday, but the 200-strikeout club as well, and it's the latter that put him and teammate James Shields in rare company.
Only seven teammates in Major League history previously had reached 200 strikeouts in back-to-back seasons: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale with the Dodgers (1962-65), Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson with the D-backs (2001-02), Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana with the Angels (1976-77), Eddie Plank and Rube Wadell (1904-05) with the Philadelphia A's, Luis Tiant and Sam McDowell with the Indians (1967-68) and Mickey Lolich and Joe Coleman with the Tigers (1971-73).
"I think I gave him the biggest hug [Tuesday] after his inning," Shields said. "I didn't want to distract him too much from throwing that complete game, but it means a lot to us. It's pretty special to do it with a guy like him. He's one of my good friends in baseball. How hard we've worked over the last couple years, it's been pretty amazing to watch. Being from L.A., I definitely love Koufax and Drysdale, they're [among] my favorite pitchers of all-time. To be named in the same category as them, it's pretty special."
Like Maddon, Shields has no doubt who should win the AL Cy Young Award.
"David Price, no doubt," said Shields, who's 15-9 with a 3.65 ERA. "As far as I'm concerned, I think Fernando's going to come in second as far as my opinion. But I mean, pick your position between the two of them. Fernando's done an amazing job this year, but the way that David's pitched in all games, the way he's pitched in big games ... From my perspective it's going to be David."
Price was just the second pitcher since 1918 to throw a complete game at Fenway Park with 13 or more strikeouts and zero walks. Only one other Rays pitcher had struck out 13 and walked none in an outing: Scott Kazmir, on Aug. 25, 2007.
Rodney's 2-2 with an 0.64 ERA in 71 games and 44-for-46 in save opportunities. Maddon lamented that Rodney could've had more saves if he were on a team with a stronger offense.
Molina held out for finale against Red Sox
BOSTON -- Rays catcher Jose Molina's status for the final days of the regular season was still unknown on Wednesday.
Molina wasn't ready to play in the second of two games against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, a day after straining his right quad running to first base. The Rays did not intend to start Molina on Wednesday anyway, although were he healthy, he could've been a late-inning replacement in the field.
"He still feels it, so I don't think he's available tonight," manager Joe Maddon said. "I honestly don't know [what the outlook is]. I don't know. He and I talked and he said, you know, he's still a little bit sore today or whatever. I said, 'Of course it is, I didn't expect you to be able to play today.' It's day to day."
The Rays had four catchers available to them before Molina was hurt: Jose Lobaton, Chris Gimenez and Stephen Vogt. Lobaton's the best thrower of the bunch, a factor Maddon considered when starting him on Wednesday with right-hander Alex Cobb on the mound. The Red Sox haven't had too much success against Cobb, so Maddon felt Boston might try to put runners in motion.
"Vogt's the least experienced," Maddon said when asked about his options. "I think Gimenez, Gimmy is a quarterback game caller, I think he's really good. He blocks the ball well, receives well. Lobaton probably the best thrower out of the group."
The Rays aren't considering adding another catcher to the roster while Molina heals.
"He's going to get a lot of treatment today from the boys and then we'll figure out where we're at after that," Maddon said.
Fuld close, but cautious with hamstring issue
BOSTON -- A week-and-a-half after straining his right hamstring, Sam Fuld's near 100 percent, but still has a little ways to go.
The Rays outfielder said he was strong enough to be used as a pinch-hitter Wednesday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and manager Joe Maddon got the green light from the training staff as well.
"He can easily do that," Maddon said. "I was talking to [head trainer Ron Porterfield] and Ronnie thought that he could, so if he tells me that he can and he's available, that's good."
Fuld was hurt on Sept. 16 in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees at New York. He wasn't having a great September, hitting .167.
Fuld did some work on the field Tuesday afternoon to test himself out.
"I just ran the bases, took some swings on the field, and wanted to get the feel of swinging and then getting right out of the box, just to try to simulate that game action," he said. "It all went well, I wasn't quite going 100 percent, but pretty close to it and it felt really good.
"Hopefully in the next day or two, get some work in the outfield, and depending on how that goes, might feel ready to do everything, run, play the outfield and hit. "
If Fuld does pinch-hit, he plans to avoid running so hard that he reaggravates the injury -- even though that's counterintuitive.
"From all I've heard about hamstrings, when you really push, that's when your prone to re-aggravating it," Fuld said. "That's going to be the hardest part, is toning down your instincts and not letting the adrenaline of the game get a hold of you ... It's going to be tough."
Desmond Jennings started in right field on Wednesday because it's roomier than left, manager Joe Maddon said. Jennings said it made no difference to him.
Still recovering from his illness, Jeff Keppinger started at designated hitter on Wednesday as a break from the field. He batted fifth.
Maddon said his decision to leave David Price in for the ninth inning at 102 pitches on Tuesday would've been tougher if the Rays had led by just one run instead of three. Still, because Price was on the mound and not a less experienced pitcher, Maddon said he would've left Price out there.