By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — How much relief has David Price felt since his shutdown performance in the clinching game of the ALCS? He’s felt so much relief that he found himself actually looking forward to a media session in October.
“[Monday] we had media day. I didn’t have to — I got to look forward to it for the first time in a long time,” Price said Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Price, who’s been open and honest about his postseason struggles all month long, explained how much weight has been lifted off his shoulders since earning that elusive victory as a starting pitcher in the playoffs.
“I guess ‘lighter’ is a good word, yeah,” Price said. “Today it’s definitely a weight lifted off of me for sure.”
That being said, the veteran left-hander did not make it seem as if his entire life had changed too much since picking up that victory last Thursday night in Houston.
“Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time,” he said. “And I’m definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing [Wednesday].
Price feels better, happier, and more confident after throwing six shutout innings last week, which is all a positive for himself and for the Red Sox. But it won’t matter much come Wednesday night, when Price once again has to show up.
He’ll be facing the Dodgers on Wednesday night in Game 2, with his Red Sox owning a 1-0 series lead. Similar to his start in Game 5 of the ALCS, when the Red Sox led the series 3-1, the pressure is not necessarily at its height. Perhaps that again works to his advantage.
While everyone’s properly celebrated his efforts in the ALCS, if he can’t perform now on baseball’s grandest stage, in his own ballpark, then all of the negativity and doubt about his October reliability will come rushing back to the forefront.
It doesn’t help Price’s situation that the presumed ace of the staff only lasted four-plus innings in Game 1. Chris Sale’s short outing meant five innings of work for the bullpen in Game 1. And while those arms will all be ready for action in Game 2, manager Alex Cora surely wouldn’t mind postponing all of that decision-making until the later innings.
How Price performs against the Dodgers is difficult to forecast. There is, of course, the factor of Price’s postseason history, which doesn’t all get erased after one good start. There is also the unknown factor when it comes to Price’s lack of experience against the Dodgers’ lineup — and vice versa.
Among Dodgers regulars, only Manny Machado and Brian Dozier have faced him with any regularity — with 44 and 43 plate appearances, respectively. Nobody else on the team has more than four plate appearances against him.
“I’m familiar with some of the guys in their lineup,” Price said. “Just [looking to go] out there and executing pitches. This is the same game we’ve been playing all year long against a team that a lot of us probably aren’t that familiar with. I think we’re all excited for it.”
What isn’t difficult to discern is the fact that Price is in as good of a place mentally as he has been in a postseason for a very long time.
“I always enjoy doing this. Just because I failed in October for about nine straight years, it didn’t take away my passion from baseball,” Price said. “This is something I fell in love with whenever — when I was two years old. So the ups and the downs, I knew they were going to happen. I’ve definitely had many more downs than ups in October, but I’ve got a lot of baseball left.”
Whether or not Price can turn that positive feeling into a second consecutive victory will go a very long way in determining whether or not the Red Sox end up winning or losing this World Series.