TORONTO - The wind was blowing in David Price’s face all day, and the left-hander was blowing the ball past the Blue Jays.
Price struck out a club-record 14 and Desmond Jennings had the first two-homer game of his career as the Tampa Bay Rays hammered the Toronto Blue Jays 12-0 on Sunday.
Price said facing stiff winds made his two-seam fastball move more than it ever has.
“That wind blowing in my face did a lot for my two-seamer,” said Price, who is 9-1 in his career against the Blue Jays. “So I was having a lot of fun to be able to throw like that.”
Jennings had three runs batted in after he had an RBI single in the six-run ninth inning against Wil Ledezma, who after the game was designated for assignment. A corresponding move is to be made Monday.
Price (12-11) held the Blue Jays to three hits and two walks in seven innings. The 14 strikeouts equal the American League best this season also done by the Yankees' CC Sabathia and Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
“I was out in left field, I was saying go for it,” Jennings said. “I was pretty bored out there. David was real good. It’s easy to play when he’s throwing the ball like that.”
The Rays (73-59) had a total of 18 strikeouts for the game, also a franchise record, as they have won the first three of the four-game series against the Blue Jays (66-67) who have lost four consecutive games to match a season high.
Jennings hit his home runs in the first two innings against Brandon Morrow (9-9) to give him eight for the season. Sean Rodriguez also hit a two-run homer against Morrow.
Morrow allowed six hits, three of them home runs, three walks and five runs in 5 1/3 innings. He had five strikeouts. The outing sent Morrow’s earned-run average up to 4.79.
Jennings homered to left on the first pitch of the game, a fastball. It was his first career homer leading off a game and the third for the Rays this season.
“I faced (Morrow) in spring training this year and I didn’t want to get behind because he’s good,” Jennings said. “He’s got good stuff. The first pitch I was trying to time his fastball. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run but I was just wanted to hit something hard.”
Jennings hit his second homer of the game and his eighth of the season in the second to put the Rays into a 5-0 lead.
It was the first multi-homer game of his career and the first by a Rays’ leadoff man since Rocco Baldelli hit two against the Yankees in New York on Sept. 14, 2006.
“It might be the first time I’ve ever homered twice in a game at any level,” Jennings said.
The Rays scored three runs in the second before Jennings’ second homer, two on the sixth homer of the season by Rodriguez and one on John Jaso’s double that scored B.J. Upton who had walked.
“I was having trouble getting my fastball to the outside edge to right-handers, everything just kept kind of going back, running arm side, and out over the plate," Morrow said.
"I came back and got three outs after that. Other than the second inning I thought I pitched pretty well, had a chance to work on some things, threw a lot of good changeups.”
Meanwhile, Price had eight strikeouts in the first three innings and 10 after four. After five innings he already had equalled his previous career high of 12 strikeouts.
“The wind in my face was just pushing against the seams so it makes it move more,” Price said. “I’ve never had that much movement before so that’s pretty cool. After I walked (Mike) McCoy to start the first, it kind of put a fire under me.”
Price’s only inning without a strikeout was the sixth when he allowed his second walk and had two fly outs and a ground out.
“David had a really good fastball early on in that game and because of that everything else was working off of it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “From where I was standing they really had a hard time catching up the velocity early. And then he started mixing in the other stuff with good command. That’s why he did what he did today because he was really, really good.”
“You have to tip your hat to Price. I thought he was awfully tough,” said Blue Jays acting manager Don Wakamatsu. “I thought he got ahead right away with a lot of hitters and did a nice job with that backdoor cutter on a lot of our hitters.
“Playing this club and losing the first two and getting down 5-0, I think all of a sudden you start seeing guys trying to do more than they need to do. No one wants to have to go through that.”
The Rays’ lead increased to 6-0 in the seventh against left-hander Rommie Lewis. After Ben Zobrist walked and Casey Kotchman was ruled to have been hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, Matt Joyce singled to right where charging Jose Bautista had the ball kick away from him. The error allowed Zobrist to score and the other runners to move up a base.
Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 21,618. .... Blue Jays’ manager John Farrell missed his third game in a row as he rests at home after being diagnosed with pneumonia late Thursday. ...Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind was given the day off on Sunday and Edwin Encarnacion played first. ...The call-up of catcher Brian Jeroloman gives the Blue Jays three catchers so Molina was the designated hitter Sunday with J.P. Arencibia behind the plate. ...Wade Davis (8-7, 4.28 ERA) will start for Tampa Bay in the series finale against Ricky Romero (12-9, 2.78 ERA).