By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Good pitching often beats good hitting. Except when it doesn’t.
David Price, who fetched a $217 million contract from the Red Sox last winter despite a shaky track record in the postseason, put forth the worst playoff start of his career. He lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing five runs, and taking the loss that put the team into a 2-0 hole to Cleveland in the ALDS.
To be fair, Price got into some trouble in the second inning based off some bad contact by Indians hitters. Carlos Santana hit a ground-ball single through the left side, before Jose Ramirez reached base on a soft infield chopper that Brock Holt couldn’t field cleanly while charging.
It was a bit of a jam, and if Price were to have pitched out of it, he would have needed to throw his best pitches.
And even though he surrendered an RBI single followed by a three-run home run, he said after the game that he did just what he wanted to do with his pitches.
“[My fastball] felt good,” Price said after the 6-0 loss. “Two of the best pitches I feel like I threw in the second inning, one was an infield single, and one was a three-run home run. That’s part of it. It stinks to say it, stinks to have it happen, but I feel good.”
The home run came on a 94 mph fastball on the inside edge of the plate to the left-handed Chisenhall. It may have been a good pitch, but with a 2-1 count, Chisenhall was clearly sitting on the fastball. Chisenhall, the No. 8 hitter who hit just eight home runs in 385 at-bats during the season, sent it out of the park at a reported 106 mph.
“I didn’t make that one big pitch,” Price said. “Still, the pitch that Chisenhall hit out, that’s a good pitch. He put a good swing on it, and that’s part of it.”
As Price put it, he might have made his pitches, but bad things happened.
“I just made some pitches, didn’t have good things happen. That’s part of it,” he said.
On the other side of things, Price said the Red Sox offense had its chances, but simply didn’t have those same good things happen.
“I know this offense is going to strike at some point, and [Corey] Kluber did a really good job,” Price said. “We hit some balls hard, we hit some balls on the nose, and they made some good plays. We hit some balls right at guys, and that’s baseball. That’s part of it.”
Price expressed confidence in his ability to be ready if called upon again, whether it be to start Game 5 or come in as a reliever in Game 3 or 4. Whenever he does pitch again in a postseason game, whether it’s this year or some year in the future, the story on his struggles won’t change. Though, based on Price’s response to being asked about his lack of postseason victories, the pitcher may not believe that narrative is fair.
“I’ve got two wins in the playoffs, just not as a starter,” he said.
That he does, but in nine postseason starts, he’s 0-8 with a 5.74 ERA.
His adamant statements about making his best pitches in the inning that doomed him are sure to rub some people in Boston the wrong way. But the reality is this: After taking a loss like that, it wouldn’t have mattered what Price said. There was no way for him to “say the right thing” or appease the minds of many people who didn’t like what they saw on the field. What people ultimately care about most are results, and without those, the words just become a sideshow.
Unfortunately for Price, there’s a good chance that he doesn’t get a chance to repair his damaged postseason reputation. And until next October — at the earliest — the final word on his postseason pitching will be him telling reporters that he has two wins as a reliever and that he threw a good pitch that got launched out of the ballpark.