Bryan Price won't be representing the Palm Springs Angels in today's California League All-Star game. The left-hander is 4-1 this year but isn't listed among the league's leading pitchers.
Still, he isn't worried by a lack of recognition. He's taking it slow. But sometimes he feels the frustration.
"You never know what they'll be impressed by," Price said. "You just have to do your best. My fastball and my slider aren't there. Sometimes, I feel like I'm going out there without a loaded gun."
Even without a full arsenal of pitches, Price had little trouble impressing the Ventura County Gulls at Ventura College on Wednesday. Price pitched a one-hitter and struck out 17 to lead Palm Springs over the Gulls, 3-0. Before Wednesday's game, Price had pitched only 40 innings but had struck out 27.
The victory gave the Angels, 15-10, a three-game sweep of the slumping Gulls. The Gulls, 9-14, who were near the top of the California League standings throughout the first half of the season, have lost four of their last six.
However, they have remained solid at the plate with five Gulls batting near the .300 mark. But the Gulls had about as much success against Price as someone trying to catch flies with a pair of chopsticks. They were swatting at air. Fourteen batters went down swinging.
"We haven't faced anyone that changed speeds like that and made us swing at the plate," Gulls Manager Glenn Ezell said of Price. "He's as good as any pitcher we've played against all year."
Price retired the first 10 batters before designated hitter Mike Jones got the Gulls only hit, a bloop single to short right field. Price promptly picked Jones off first base and then retired the next 11 Gulls in order, facing the minimum number of batters until the Ventura County eighth when he momentarily lost his control.
He walked two and hit a batter to load the bases before a fine defensive play by third baseman Bill Geivett rescued him. Geivett snared James Bishop's one-hopper down the third-base line with a spectacular backhanded grab and turned it into an inning-ending double play.
"It's a heads up play," Palm Springs Manager Tom Kotchman said. "We had him playing close to the line. If he had been playing in any more, that's over his head."
Price finished strong, striking out the side in the ninth.
The Gulls had trouble defensively late in the game. They committed only one error, but fell victim to two bad-hop singles in the ninth. Their misfortune received a mixed review from Ezell.
"We haven't made our breaks, but the breaks haven't been given to us either," Ezell said.
Gull pitcher Jeff Musselman (7-6) started the game with two walks but settled down, striking out six Angels before being relieved by Hugh Brinson in the sixth. Musselman, who leads the league in strikeouts with 155, allowed two runs on seven hits.
"Musselman had one ball up," Ezell said in reference to John DiGioia's sixth-inning home run. "He kept us in the game. We should have been able to hit behind him."
Palm Springs scored twice in the sixth on DiGioia's two-run home run that scored Geivett, who had singled and reached second on Mitch Seoane's sacrifice bunt. The homer was DiGioia's third of the season.
DiGioia, who was 3 for 5, scored in the eighth after he singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and went home on a Stacey Pettis single to left.
Greg Myers was the only Gull who Price failed to strike out. The Ventura catcher flied deep to right twice and walked in the eighth.
Five Gulls will be participating in today's California League All-Star game. Catcher Greg Myers, who is batting .313 and left fielder Geronimo Berroa, who carries a .295 average with 11 home runs and 40 runs batted in will start for the Southern Division team, which is managed by Tom Kotchman of Palm Springs. Outfielder Luis Reyna (.304, 11 home runs) and shortstop Eric Yelding (.265) are reserves. Jeff Musselman, who leads the league in strikeouts with 155, has been named to the pitching staff. Musselman (7-6) has a 3.01 earned-run average.