By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — David Price had a tremendous opportunity before him on Saturday night. The biggest knock against Price for years has been that he can’t handle the pressure of the postseason. He’s also had some significant issues against the Yankees.
In one single game, he had the chance to quiet the criticism on both fronts.
But he failed.
It wasn’t quite a spectacular failure, in that he only allowed three runs. But by lasting just 1.2 innings in Game 2 of the ALDS at home against the Yankees, Price fulfilled the expectations that many people held for him heading into this postseason.
By the end of Price’s short night, he allowed five base runners while retiring just five batters. He allowed a 445-foot mammoth blast from Aaron Judge just the 10th pitch of the night.
He allowed Gary Sanchez to double the Yankees’ lead on the third pitch of the second inning with another solo homer.
And his night ended after he gave up an RBI “single” from Andrew McCutchen, a ball that would have flown deep out of most ballparks, but was contained by the 37-foot Green Monster in left field.
That McCutchen hit came after Price had allowed back-to-back walks to Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner, who were batting eighth and ninth in the Yankees’ lineup.
At that point, Alex Cora felt compelled to make a move, dipping into his bullpen early, just one night after the Boston bullpen was taxed heavily in a stressful game.
The Yankees led 3-0 when Price left the game. They’d never trail from that point forward, with New York winning 6-2 to even the series at one game apiece.
Simply put, the Red Sox needed six or seven good innings out of Price. He gave them fewer than two.
Cora said after the loss that Price could be used as a reliever going forward, but he’s still going to remain in the rotation if his spot comes up again this postseason.
“I mean, he’s one of the starters,” Cora said. “Just a bad outing today. Just happened that it was on this stage and he didn’t make pitches. But we trust him. He’s bounced back before. We’ll talk to him to make a few adjustments and we’ll go from there.”
Price said that he’s open to working in relief if that helps contribute to a World Series victory, but that he’s still confident he can help the team as a starter.
“But my spirits aren’t down, my confidence isn’t down. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and getting another opportunity,” Price said. “Whatever I need to do to help us do that, I’m fine with. But I know that I’m more than capable of winning games as a starter in October. And that’s what I look forward to doing.”
As far as Price is concerned, Saturday night’s start will just be the latest in a long line of playoff flops. He entered the night with an 0-8 record and a 5.74 ERA as a starter in the playoffs. He exited in worse shape. It was his shortest outing as a starter in the playoffs. A bad reputation has now worsened. And a mostly excellent regular season in 2018 has been rendered irrelevant.
As far as the Red Sox are concerned, the start throws everything out of whack. If the team is fortunate enough to have Price’s spot come up against this October, it will be quite challenging for Cora and the rest of his staff to trust him. Certainly, everything was aligned for this start — it was at home, the Sox held a 1-0 series lead, the temperature was plenty warm enough to prevent any tingling in his left hand from springing up — yet Price still couldn’t succeed. How will he fare in a more pressure-packed situation, perhaps on the road, in an adverse environment?
That question cannot be answered until (or if?) Price takes the mound again. But after lasting less than two innings in a perfect situation, there’s even less reason than ever to believe that Price will be able to answer the bell.