David Price’s ERA remains unblemished through two starts for the Boston Red Sox after he blanked the Tampa Bay Rays over seven innings in the home opener.
Another start, another seven shutout innings for David Price. The left-hander is making a case for being co-ace of the Boston Red Sox rotation after blanking the Tampa Bay Rays in each of his first two starts.
Price stymied the Rays lineup over seven scoreless innings in Thursday’s home opener at Fenway Park. He allowed only three hits and struck out five. The three walks he issued were a slight concern, although he was hardly the only pitcher to show a lapse in control on a day when the temperature barely cracked 40 degrees.
The free passes drove up Price’s pitch count to 91 through seven innings. The Red Sox don’t want to push him this early in the season so his day ended despite that he appeared to have plenty left in the tank. Carson Smith gave up a two-run homer in the eighth, leaving us to second-guess the decision not to stick with Price. Boston would rally to win in extra-innings but Price was deprived of a well-earned win.
Price has been brilliant through two starts. The lefty has totaled 14 shutout innings, scatting seven hits, three walks and striking out 10. He’s the only pitcher in the majors with two starts or more than nine innings who hasn’t allowed an earned run yet this season.
This marks the first time in three years that a pitcher has opened the season with back-to-back scoreless starts of 7+ innings. The last pitcher to do so in their first three starts was Luis Tiant in 1966. Price will attempt to match that accomplishment in his start next week against the New York Yankees.
Price is the first Red Sox pitcher in the last 100 years with 7+ scoreless innings and four or fewer hits in each of his first two starts of the season.
The dominance of Boston’s starting rotation continues. Red Sox starters still haven’t given up more than one run in any of their first seven games to begin the season. The starters own a collective 0.86 ERA, the best mark by any team’s starting rotation through seven games since the 1993 Atlanta Braves.
Granted, the Triple-A caliber lineups of the Rays and Miami Marlins haven’t posed much of a challenge. The level of competition takes nothing away from how great the rotation has been throwing this season.
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This is particularly encouraging for Price coming off an injury-plagued season in which he was limited to 74 2/3 innings and was relegated to the bullpen following his late-season return from the disabled list.
Price also has a history of starting seasons slowly, as Red Sox fans found out in his introduction to Boston in 2016. The lefty was blasted a few times over the first six weeks of that season. He settled down to return to the ace-caliber pitcher we expected him to be but by that point, the narrative of Price being a bust had already begun to fester. His career early-season numbers are solid yet not quite up to his elite level. Price’s 3.86 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in March/April are higher than what he’s produced in any other month over the course of his career.
Greater challenges await, as Price sadly won’t get to face the Rays every time out. Eventually, he may even give up a run. The important takeaway is that Price has proven he’s healthy, his velocity is back on track and he has shown command of all his pitches. He won’t continue to be quite this dominant but a big season could be in store for the lefty.