The Red Sox needed to win.
David Price needed to win.
They were 0-4 in their first four games against the Yankees this season, a team that, despite having a shocking number of stars on the Injured List, is the best team in the division.
If they lost, they would drop to 10.5 games back. They’d have lost five in a row. They’d be swept by their rivals. They’d be even more humiliated than they’d already been so far this season, in their plummet from the pedestal of championship.
But since last year, David Price has become the man on whom the Red Sox can depend in the toughest of times. He went from 0-10 in his lengthy postseason starting career to winning Games 1 and 5 of the ALCS and Games 2 and 5 of the World Series. After a shaky, inconsistent first couple of seasons in Boston, his redemption was nearly complete when he proudly hoisted that trophy high on October 28th.
But only nearly.
Because David Price still couldn’t pitch against the Yankees. He just couldn’t do it. In six previous starts at Yankee Stadium since joining the Red Sox, he had six losses and a 9.79 ERA. Yankees batters were hitting .380 off of him. It was like watching Pedro in 2004 all over again. There were bad starts and short starts and missed starts, and worst of all, his start in Game 2 of the ALDS, in which he gave up 3 hits, walked two, had 3 earned runs (two of them homers), and couldn’t strike out a single batter in just 1.2 innings. He hadn’t faced them since.
Last night, David Price checked the final box on his Red Sox redemption list; he jumped the biggest hurdle; he exorcised his last demon.
In his 100th career start with the Red Sox, David Price finally overcame the New York Yankees.
Backed by Price’s strongest start against the Yankees in years, the Red Sox managed to pull off an 8-5 win and avoid a series sweep. Price struck out six, gave up six hits, walked one, and allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings. And the lethargic offense finally contributed with a couple solo blasts from JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts (for the second night in a row), and the lineup actually managed to NOT strand a few runners, which has been one of their most concerning problems of late. After a very quiet first two games, Michael Chavis had his first career triple for an RBI, and Rafael Devers also drove in a run.
In the end, despite a lightning storm and Matt Barnes combining for an attempt to hand the game to New York, the Red Sox prevailed. It’s David Price’s first win at Yankee Stadium in a Red Sox uniform, and his first win against them overall since September 11, 2015.
It’s worth noting that like fellow starter Chris Sale, David Price doesn’t get nearly enough run support from his teammates. The Sox are averaging 2.81 runs of support for Sale, and a slightly-better but still far-too-low 4.06 for Price. I used to say that the Red Sox deserved better from David Price; since the All-Star break last summer, now David Price is the one who deserves better from the Red Sox.
Price now holds the 9th best ERA in the Majors, 2.83 in 10 starts. The Red Sox are 60-40 in his starts in a Boston. He was praised postgame by his manager and teammates. ESPN named him their Sunday Night Player of the Game; Jon Lester is the only other starter to be recognized. He himself said, “We needed today… It feels good. To pitch well in a place I haven’t pitched well in a while against a team that’s given me problems, it feels good.”
Last October, when the Red Sox headed to the Bronx for the third game of the ALDS, Yankees fans gave Price a standing ovation, mocking him for his bad start in the previous game.
Last night, they booed him, confirming long before the game was over, that he had finally beaten them.
We’ve been waiting for a turning point since the season began. Something to jumpstart this team. It’s June now, and the season is a third over. I hope Price’s defeat of the Yankees is the spark that finally sets them ablaze.
As someone who was very hard on Price for a long time, I’m so happy he proved me wrong; I always wanted him to. I can’t imagine how proud he feels tonight. On a crucial night, against an imposing team, David Price was exactly who we needed him to be: himself.
Photo: Red Sox Twitter