David Price tried to keep his start on Tuesday from being a distraction. But when the Rays left-hander and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner is winless four starts into the season, there are going to be some questions and puzzled looks.
"This is something I don't want to just be good at -- I play this game to be great," said Price on Monday, one day before facing the Yankees at Tropicana Field. "And that's the way I've always been. But I've struggled before. I've struggled at every level I've ever been at in baseball. It's part of it. The ones who can get through those struggles and not let it linger on for months at a time, those are the ones who can get through the struggles and still have extremely good years."
Price has done that throughout his career, as his current four-game winless stretch is only the second time the Rays have lost four of his starts consecutively.
"For me, it's just executing pitches out there in the big situations," Price said. "That was something I was able to do extremely well in 2012 and not so well in 2011. And that's why I had the 'down year' in 2011. I'm just looking to get back out there, try and go deeper into the games."
While Price has been frustrated as he searches for his first win of the season, the Yankees have been feeling that way at Tropicana Field, where New York has dropped 12 of its last 14 games.
Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes will try to change New York's fortunes on Tuesday, when he also goes for his first victory of 2013. April has never been kind to the 26-year-old Hughes, however, as he is 4-11 with a 6.95 ERA in 21 career April starts.
Yankees: Homers abundant
• The Yankees have homered in each of their first nine road games to start the year, matching their longest streak since 2000.
• Yankees pitchers are holding opponents to a .230 average with runners in scoring position, including only seven extra-base hits (two doubles, one triple and four homers).
Rays: Longo finding ways on base
• Third baseman Evan Longoria continued his impressive start to the season in Monday's 5-1 win, knocking a single and drawing a walk. He has now reached base safely in all 19 games this season. In Rays history, there have been only two longer streaks to start a season: Rocco Baldelli (24 in 2003) and Jorge Cantu (20 in '05).
Longoria's streak, which dates to last season, has reached 33 games, six shy of Johnny Damon's club record of 39 set in 2011.
• The Rays have homered in eight straight games.
• On Monday, left-hander Matt Moore became the first pitcher in franchise history to win his first four starts of a season.
• This is the fifth time in history a reigning Cy Young Award winner's team has lost his first four starts. The last time it happened in the AL was 1989 with the Twins and Frank Viola.
• Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist is hitless in 12 career at-bats against Hughes.
• Opponents are hitting .429 (15-for-35) against Price with two outs.