The Week Ahead: Price begins his Tigers tale
Lefty faces Yanks in Bronx in first start since blockbuster trade from Rays
There are old faces in new places, there's Interleague intrigue, and the countdown to September's pennant-race madness is getting closer and closer. If you thought last week's crazy and awesome non-waiver Trade Deadline took care of all the drama in Major League Baseball for the month, well, you've got another Week Ahead coming.
First things first: David, you've watched Jon and John do their thing. Now it's your turn.
Today, the baseball world will still be picking itself up off the floor after the events of last Thursday, one of the more remarkable non-waiver Trade Deadlines in the history of the sport. Jon Lester was the first ace to go, traded from Boston to Oakland. Then John Lackey went from the Red Sox to the Cardinals. Both debuted for their new teams last week and earned victories.
And on Tuesday, David Price, the left-hander who was dealt away from Tampa Bay in a last-minute three-team blockbuster that sent him to Detroit, will make his Tigers debut and hope to follow suit.
It'll happen against the Yankees in the Bronx, which is somehow fitting for a pitcher who has loved the big stage. Price knows he will be counted on as a key piece in a Detroit rotation that now includes the past three American League Cy Young Award winners (Price, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander).
"I don't add any extra pressure on myself," Price said. "Like I said before, pressure is perceived. If I can go out there, first and foremost, I want to have fun on the baseball field. Whenever you lose sight of that, it really turns into a job, and then it's not a whole lot of fun, even if you are throwing the ball well. I want to go out there and have fun, enjoy my teammates, enjoy the environment, just help this team win."
A lot of teams are trying to win right now, and as it so happens, the schedule-makers put a bunch of them together this week.
Monday kicks off two natural-rivalry Interleague matchups with playoff contenders. The Angels and Dodgers will play two installments of their annual Freeway Series in Los Angeles before heading down Interstate 5 to play two more in Anaheim. The Reds and Indians will battle for Ohio bragging rights in Cleveland on Monday and Tuesday and in Cincinnati on Wednesday and Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Rays will take a trip West to play the A's in Oakland in a three-game series, and in another interesting Interleague showdown involving teams with October hopes, the Braves will venture to Seattle for a rare Tuesday-Wednesday two-gamer against the Mariners.
In the middle of the week, we'll see a rematch of last year's World Series, although both teams look a bit different. The Red Sox will play the Cardinals in a three-game set in Busch Stadium, and while Lackey will likely not take the hill in his new park against his old team, St. Louis will be all-out to win, what with the one-game deficit to the Brewers in the National League Central that they're taking into the series.
And outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig, who was traded for Lackey, will go right back to his former home park as a member of the opposition.
"Yeah, the timing of it is a little funky in that regard," Craig said. "It's going to be fun to go in there and play against my former teammates and go back to St. Louis. I'm just going to go and play my game and just play.
"I think it's still sinking in, just being in the clubhouse and seeing a lot of faces and putting the names to faces and that type of stuff. It's cool to be on this side of the clubhouse and get to know the guys who I played against last year in the World Series."
The team the Cardinals are chasing, the Brewers, get a stern test this week when they play the NL West-contending Giants at home for three games.
And over the weekend, there are must-see matchups all over the country, from Indians-Yankees in New York to Cardinals-Orioles at Camden Yards to Dodgers-Brewers in Milwaukee.
And in Atlanta, the Braves will host the Nationals in what could be a huge
And in Arizona, the D-backs and the rest of Major League Baseball will unfortunately have to adapt to life without star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who is likely out for the season with a broken left hand.
"It hurts," Gibson said. "He's one of our best players, for sure. One of the best players in the league."