David Price's Postseason Redemption Continues In Game 2 Win
BOSTON—David Price is changing the narrative.
He was the No. 1 overall pick turned Cy Young Award winner, a durable lefthanded ace who embodied what teams pray for when they spend a top draft pick on a pitcher.
But he came apart in the postseason. With Tampa Bay. With Toronto. With Boston. It happened again and again and again, threatening to overshadow the brilliant career he put together ever since he stepped out of Vanderbilt and into pro ball.
That’s all done now. At least, it appears to be.
Price began to reverse his postseason fortunes with six shutout innings against the defending champion Astros in the clinching game of the ALCS. On Wednesday night, Price took the mound at Fenway Park and delivered an encore performance.
Price pitched six innings with just three hits and two runs allowed to lift the Red Sox to a 4-2 win over the Dodgers in Game Two of the World Series. It gave the 33-year-old lefthander back-to-back wins in the postseason for the first time in his career and put Boston up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
"It's huge,” Price said. "This is the biggest stage in baseball. There's no other stage that's going to be bigger than pitching in a World Series game. …To be able to do that, it feels good, for sure. I'm pumped for myself, pumped for all my teammates and coaches for us to be two wins away.”
Price was efficient early and late, retiring nine of his first 11 batters he faced and the final seven. He threw 88 pitches, 58 for strikes, and didn’t allow an extra-base hit. He walked three and struck out five, including a pair of punchouts to limit a Dodgers rally in the fourth.
After Price induced a Matt Kemp groundout to end the sixth on what would be his final pitch of the night, Price walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 38,644.
"It was only a matter of time until he kind of righted the ship for the postseason, I guess you could say,” Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "You know what you’re going to get with him every time he toes it up. He’s the ultimate competitor, he wants the ball in his hand.
"Just because he might have had a little bump in the road, no one doubted him. He did a great job tonight and led the way for us.”
Price was supported by an incredible run of two-out hitting the Red Sox have sustained throughout the postseason. All four of Boston’s runs came with two outs, and overall 36 of their 68 runs this postseason have come with two away.
"I don’t think anybody would expect those type of numbers,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "This team never quits, doesn’t matter how many outs there are. We understand that with two outs, if you can keep the inning alive, anything can happen. "
Kinsler provided the first two-out RBI when he lined a single down the left field line to score Xander Bogaerts in the second, staking Price and the Red Sox to a 1-0 lead.
Price surrendered the lead when he had his lone hiccup in the fourth inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases to open the frame, and a sacrifice fly from Kemp and RBI single by Yasiel Puig put them in front, 2-1, for their first lead of the series.
But Price controlled the damage by striking Kike Hernandez with a runner on third and one out—when almost any ball in play would have resulted in a run—and he escaped the inning by blowing a 94 mph fastball past Austin Barnes for a strikeout.
"That was a tough inning, it could have spun out of control pretty fast,” Price said. "And it's been one of my Achilles' heels especially in the playoffs and even in the regular season, is that big inning. Being able to stop it at two right there after the Puig hit, that was big.”
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The Red Sox quickly worked their two-out magic again to regain the lead. Dodgers lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu had largely cruised into the fifth inning and quickly retired the first two batters, but Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts strung together back-to-back singles, and Andrew Benintendi worked an eight-pitch walk to send Ryu from the game. Steve Pearce drew a walk from reliever Ryan Madson to force him the tying run, and two pitches later, J.D. Martinez dropped a single into right field to score a pair and give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.
"One thing in the playoffs, and we talked about it before we started, (is) get the leadoff guy out and don't give up two-out hits or runners. And we've been doing that to the opposition,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "Putting the ball in play in those situations is very important. I said it a few days ago, and I'll say it again: We live in an era that .210 with 30 home runs and 70 RBIs is acceptable, it's a good season, and we don't believe that. There are certain situations that a strikeout is not just an out. We put them in play, and they did again tonight, and that's why we won the game.”
Price and the bullpen took it from there. Price retired the side in both the fifth and sixth, and Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel followed with a perfect inning each to complete a combined three-hitter.
After it was over, Price sat down in the press conference room with his son in his lap, smiling but serene. He was calm and measured, more steady than excited.
The pressure had been relieved. Where once he was postseason liability with a career ERA north of 5.00 in the playoffs, he was now the championship-caliber pitcher expected to be from the day he was drafted, both in October and the regular season.
"On a personal note, I'm very proud for him, very happy for him that now he can keep pitching,” Cora said. "There's not going to be questions in spring training anymore about David Price in October. He beat the Houston Astros in Houston. He beat the Dodgers here in Fenway Park. I'm happy for that, because he deserves it.”