NEW YORK (CBS) — It’s not the ideal situation, but we all knew it was a possibility. The Red Sox have lost home field advantage in their best-of-five ALDS with the Yankees.
Perhaps it was shocking in the way it happened. David Price struggled — again. To watch him go just 1.2 innings in his first postseason start was difficult. If you have even an ounce of sympathy, you had to feel for the guy. He wants so badly to be THE guy and it seemingly just gets worse. Price is now 0-9 in 10 career playoff starts.
“He’s the first one to admit he’s disappointed,” Boston manager Alex Cora said Sunday. “One thing I love is the fact that he came out to the dugout. Regardless of the result, he was there for his teammates. I didn’t get caught up in the whole thing. I know we need him to win a World Series. He needs to pitch better, and he knows it. I know he’ll be better. I know he’s going to contribute. Whenever we call his name, he has to be ready for it and perform.”
So, at least for this series, Price will come out of the bullpen to try to contribute. He’s been effective at it too. Just last year, Price threw 6.2 innings of scoreless relief against the Astros. He was dominant.
Why? Because when you come out of the bullpen you don’t have time to think. You warm up, you come in, you throw as hard as you can for as long as you can, and you’re done. As a starter, you think about it all day. You think about how you’re going to pitch to certain hitters, what your best pitch might be that outing, what to do if a guy gets on, etc. It becomes a mind game. Like a hitter who has time in the on-deck circle and in the batter’s box. You think about, “What’s this guy going to throw me? Should I look fastball or breaking ball?” It’s like a golfer. Way too much time to let it get in your head.
So we may see Price as soon as Game 3 out of the bullpen. Good. The ‘pen can use the help, especially with Steven Wright out. Price could be a huge piece of the bridge to Kimbrel.
Some other thoughts as we ready for Game 3:
– Nathan Eovaldi has been lights out against the Yankees since being acquired in late July. He allowed just one unearned run over 16 innings in three starts with 13 strikeouts and zero home runs allowed. Cora said before the series began that you have to “keep the ball in the ballpark” against New York, and Eovaldi has done just that.
So now he’ll get the Start in Game 3, and why not? Give Rick Porcello another day of rest. I’m fine with that.
– We got an interesting glimpse into how Alex Cora interacts with his players when it comes to correcting or teachable moments. In the seventh inning of Game 2, Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t hustle to cover first on a ground ball to Mitch Moreland and Aaron Judge beat it out for an infield single. Cora didn’t scream at E-Rod when he came into the dugout.
“I just talked to him and told him to be accountable, that’s it,” Cora said Sunday. “I guess he told you guys he slipped or something like that. I’m like, ‘Man, if you don’t break right away, just be accountable. That’s all we ask.’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah my fault. I just didn’t break.’ That’s it. I get it. Next time just bust your ass to first base. That’s all you’ve got to do.”
– When asked about some possible lineup changes, Cora said he knew that question was coming.
“I’ll go to experience from the World Series last year. That’s something I learned. Be patient,” he explained. “It’s such a small series that people get caught up in the whole small sample sizes. I always said the difference between a .300 hitter in the postseason and a .200 hitter is 2-for-10 and 3-for-10 — it’s one swing.”
And he’s spot on. You have to stay with the players you think are the best. Terry Francona was blasted in the 2004 ALCS after Johnny Damon and Mark Bellhorn struggled through the first three games against the Yankees. Tito didn’t give in to the second guessers and stuck with them. He was rewarded with the greatest comeback in history with both Damon and Bellhorn making huge contributions.
– I said it before the series began. In order for the Sox to win this series they have to do what they did best all season long en route to 108 victories. They have to hit. They have to score runs.
Since the third inning of Game 1, we’ve seen just two runs in 14 innings. In a short series where everything gets magnified, we have to see runs produced. Timely hitting is everything. The Sox need to do that in two of the next three games or they’ll be going home. I just don’t see them winning a 1-0, 2-1, or 3-2 game against these Yankees.