Boston Red Sox lefty David Price saw his team win a postseason game he started, a positive step even if he wasn’t credited with the win.
David Price has now made 11 postseason starts in his career and is still seeking his first win. His latest effort wasn’t quite enough yet for the first time since he joined the Boston Red Sox, Price can walk away from a playoff start feeling good about himself.
The Red Sox led 5-4 when Price was lifted with two outs in the fifth inning. He retired Jose Altuve to lead off the inning and pitched around the dangerous Alex Bregman for a one-out walk. Yuli Gurriel grounded out to third but the Red Sox couldn’t turn two to get out of the inning. Price was given one more shot to complete the fifth but was pulled after walking Tyler White on four pitches.
One more out. That’s all he needed to be in line for his first postseason win as a starter. Matt Barnes struck out Marwin Gonzalez to end the inning and the Red Sox would go on to win the game 7-5 but Price didn’t quite last long enough to get credit for the victory.
While he wasn’t able to earn that coveted W for his postseason resume, this was an encouraging outing from Price. The Fenway crowd recognized his performance with a standing ovation as he left the mound. Who would have ever thought Red Sox fans would have a reason to cheer Price in a playoff game?
Price’s teams had been 0-10 in postseason games he started entering Game 2 of the ALCS, with the lefty getting tagged with the loss in nine of those starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the most consecutive losses for a pitcher’s team to start a postseason career in major league history. That’s a streak that Price will no longer have to worry about extending.
Price told reporters after the Game 2 win that while he recognizes the narratives regarding his lack of postseason success, his focus is on the bigger picture. His team prevailed in a must-win scenario. That’s what matters.
"“I came here to win a World Series and to do it multiple times.,” said Price. “I understand the narratives. I get that. I deserve those narratives. But this is bigger than David Price. This isn’t about me. This is about the Boston Red Sox.”"
Price will change those narratives if he helps lead the Red Sox to a championship. Being a part of a winning effort on this stage is a positive step that should alleviate some of the pressure he faces every October.
"“That’s my first team win as a starter,” Price said with a smirk. “If it’s baby steps, it’s baby steps.”"
Price allowed four runs on five hits and four walks in his 4 2/3 innings of work. His final line may not look pretty but Price pitched better than the numbers suggest.
A nonchalant Xander Bogaerts wasn’t able to throw out the speedy Carlos Correa on a groundball hit deep in the hole. There’s no time to crow-hop or double-clutch in that situation and the mental lapse by Bogaerts allowed a key runner to get on base. Martin Maldonado ripped a laser down the third base line that barely stayed fair and George Springer drove in both runs on a soft blooper over the head of first baseman Steve Pearce. Price made a good pitch that jammed Springer, only to suffer the misfortune of the ball falling in for a hit.
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If Bogaerts makes the play on Correa or Springer pops out to first then Price escapes the second inning without any damage. His performance would look a lot better if it was only two earned runs instead of four. Not having to work so hard to get out of that inning could have meant he’d have more in the tank for that fifth inning. Maybe he makes it out of that frame in that case, lasting long enough to earn the win.
His defense may have let him down but the bullpen had Price’s back. A core of relievers that was a question mark entering the postseason put together another solid effort. Boston’s bullpen allowed only one baserunner over the next 3 1/3 scoreless inning to get the ball to their closer. Craig Kimbrel, who has suddenly become the shakiest part of this underrated bullpen, coughed up another run but managed to slam the door shut to secure the win.
Price is still seeking a win but he pitched well enough to deserve one. It was an encouraging sign that at the very least means we won’t have to be terrified of a scenario in which Price may be asked to start another must-win game. That’s a tremendous step for a pitcher who has been plagued by his postseason failures throughout his career. That narrative is starting to change with Price and the Red Sox inching another step closer to the World Series.