The Fourth of July will go down as one of the better Boston sports days of the year, starting with the drama surrounding the Celtics signing of Gordon Hayward. About an hour later, the Red Sox looked to win their sixth straight game with a potential pitchers duel in the balance.
David Price was up against Yu Darvish, so if Price ended up victorious in this game, Price had to put everything from his past few starts together and did he ever.
Shockingly, Price’s start is not the major takeaway from this game. His thunder was stolen by Andrew Benintendi, who amassed a two home run, five RBI, five-for-five game that was a triple away from the cycle. However, Price’s Fourth of July performance is more than worthy of praise.
The first inning was an immediate test of the hard-hitting strikeout or home-run Texas Rangers, with Elvis Andrus singling and Adrian Beltre doubling to put runners on second and third with two outs. Price battled back with a big swinging strikeout of Carlos Gomez, who chased a 95 mph fastball up high.
In the second inning, Price was way in control. He gunned Rougned Odor out with a 93 mph fastball, also up and away. He then struck Mike Napoli out looking with another fastball, this time reaching 96 mph. This was another sign that Price’s fastball keeps getting better with each start and his off speed stuff should soon follow.
The fastball continued to be the star of the show in the third inning, with Price fanning two more Rangers with it. Pete Kozma and Elvis Andrus both chased the fastball at 95 mph and both went back to the dugout empty-handed.
Rolling on into the fourth inning, Price tallied two more K’s of Rougned Odor and Carlos Gomez with similar pitches. Gomez suffered another three-pitch at-bat and whiffed at another 95 mph fastball. For Rougned Odor, Price dialed up to 96 mph to sit him down again. The inning ended with a whimper for Texas as Mike Napoli flied out.
The fifth inning is where the Rangers looked their most frustrated as Robinson Chirinos was Price’s fifth victim of the fastball, caught looking at 95 mph. A ground out and fly out negated the single by Pete Kozma.
Price looked more human in the sixth inning after a single and a walk, but he then bounced back. Rougned Odor swung and missed on an 88 mph change-up for his third strikeout of the game, and Price’s ninth and final strikeout of the game. This was also Price’s first and only strikeout on a pitch other than the fastball. Mike Napoli popped out to end the inning.
Now over 100 pitches, John Farrell gave him the okay to pitch the seventh inning. In Price’s first count, ESPN announcers noticed Price looking at his hand before releasing his final pitch and losing the batter after a fastball outside.
John Farrell immediately hopped out to the mound to see what was up and then to yank Price. Given the 9-0 score, there was no need to overextend Price, so he came out as the result of a hand injury.
The line: six innings, six hits, zero earned runs, two BBs, nine strikeouts, and everything you could ever ask from Price right now.
With the Red Sox notching six straight wins to make headroom in the crowded AL East before the All-Star Break, Price’s development is coming at the perfect time. This is great news for the Red Sox, as Eduardo Rodriguez is aiming to return shortly after the All-Star Break.
Price’s smoother sailing after the first inning is due in part to the Boston bats spotting him two runs and those were all Price needed in the game. However, Price received more than he asked for from Boston’s offense.
With a cushion of multiple runs the entire start, Price was allowed to pitch exactly how he wanted and out of the stretch.
Price was much more dominant Tuesday night and that is again because of the progression of David Price’s fastball. He kept within a solid range of 92 to 96 all night and he dialed up to 96 when he was looking for strikeouts.
He stuck with three pitches: the fastball, the slider for getting ahead early in counts, and the change-up as a twist to throw hitters off.
After the game, Price revealed to the media the answer to his dubious “It’s always something” comment from the past week: a torn elbow, in no uncertain terms. Rest assured, that appears to be in the rearview mirror as Price continues to return to his pre-injury form.
It was also revealed this week that Price’s scuffle with Dennis Eckersley was Price playing scapegoat for his teammates, namely Eduardo Rodriguez for his poor rehab start. As Price was not impacted by his two poor Pawtucket starts and that he is public enemy No.1 in the media. It is unsurprising that Price went to the aid of Rodriguez. Dennis Eckersley is also not well-liked by the Red Sox from top to bottom for his own tell-it-like-it-is commentary.
While Price surrendered two walks and six hits, nobody is going to complain about the nine strikeouts, even if Texas is a team that swings at everything. Once again, if the off speed shows the same progression as his fastball, Price is having no trouble in the road ahead.
His ERA is down to 4.02 now that he’s lasting longer in games and not getting beat early anymore. This is a huge step forward, but there is of course more work to be done.
Although there is always something with David Price, losing him to this hand injury would be a debilitating blow to the team, especially with his great progress in the past few starts. If all goes well, Price will face his former team in Tampa Bay on Sunday the 9th.