His last two starts were forward progress, but this one makes Red Sox fans much more confident.
There’s nothing better for Price to rehab and rebuild than the soft schedule he just had for his past three starts. This coming after getting bounced around in New York by the Yankees at their peak earlier this month.
Three of his last four starts were against middling or bad teams: the Phillies, the Angels, and the Twins. The one outlier being his start against the Astros, and even in that game Price was good enough though probably left in too long.
No media crap this time, so we’re sticking to baseball again. I will say he could easily do better with his post-game interview by not floating around possible injuries this time.
Price started off giving up one run in the first inning from a fielder’s choice by Joe Mauer. Whatever, 1-0 Twins.
He bounced back with two zero’s on the scoreboard in both the second and third. In the fourth though, Price hiccuped. He surrendered a double to Jorge Polanco off the Green Monster that would score two, 3-0 Twins.
At this point it was looking like a typical Price start: a few hits, a couple of runs, a few strikeouts. His offspeed stuff was also more of the same, either missing the plate or thrown dangerously close to the middle. The double to Polanco was one of those, a changeup that stayed down but in the middle. To counter that, his fastball continues to be great, and his velocity is only improving.
It also looked like the 3-0 lead was too much for Boston’s bats to handle. Price’s start and the 3-0 lead would both change for the better soon after.
After the Red Sox offense got it going with runs in the fourth and fifth, Price got the boost he needed for once to go back out there. With his pitch count rising, David Price had to make it happen, and to forget about the mistakes made from earlier in the game.
From the sixth inning on, it was a whole new ballgame. It was also arguably the two best innings from Price all season. In the sixth, Price let all the tools out of the bag. On his strikeout of Jorge Polanco in the sixth inning, Price dialed up for 96(!) on his fastball. He got Eduardo Escobar to foul out, and then struck Miguel Sano out with two sliders and a fastball, his slider on the strikeout pitch hitting 90.
With numbers like these, it’s safe to say Price’s arm feels better.
Price then went back out for the 7th, now right around the 100 pitch mark. It’s possible that Price didn’t feel his six innings were enough, and that he still had some left in him. He was right.
On four pitches, Price sent Max Kepler back to the dugout. A curve, a fastball, a changeup for a ball, and a healthy swing-and-miss on the changeup again.
Chris Gimenez took the cheese on Price’s first pitch and flied out to center. Two outs.
And now for David Price’s final battle on the night with Byron Buxton. This time, he really emptied out the tank while over a hundred pitches.
First pitch: 81 MPH Curve taken for a ball.
Second pitch: 88 MPH slider taken for a strike.
Third pitch: another slider, same speed, fouled off by Buxton.
Fourth pitch: a third slider in a row at 89 this time, with Buxton defending.
Fifth pitch: 88 MPH changeup taken for ball 2, 2-2 count.
Sixth pitch: Price goes back to the slider, at 88. Buxton fouls this off.
At this point, Buxton is expecting the fastball to come out with two strikes. Spoiler: he doesn’t see any.
Price gets the final chase on an 88 MPH changeup, and walks back to the dugout to an applause from Fenway, and well deserved. That’s textbook for how you battle back as a pitcher when it doesn’t go your way early on.
Dave O’Brien and Dennis Eckersley couldn’t help themselves with their own excitement, and I can’t blame them either. It really is what the doctor ordered for this guy.
The sixth and seventh innings accounted for four of his seven strikeouts on the day. What was so important about these strikeouts was that Price was able to chase guys using his offspeed instead of relying on the heater to get guys out. After all, seven K’s is more of how Price really wants to pitch.
He doesn’t wanna wait for the best time to use his fastball, he wants to mix the fastball in with the curve, slider, and changeup. When all four of these pitches work as they did late in Price’s start Thursday, he can be dominant.
Another important note: no walks again. He did get behind in counts, but he came back with the best control I’ve seen so far out of him. The fact that his offspeed pitches are getting better, makes his control much better, since he doesn’t have to rely on the fastball to throw strikes.
Where the past couple of starts were steps forward, this one was a great leap. If Price can go out there and replicate this start in Texas, the Red Sox can jump ahead in the AL East and prove their worth as a playoff and possible pennant contender.
Price’s next start is the Fourth of July against Texas, and nobody wants to see fireworks from the Rangers.