For David Price, It’s the Wrong Month, Against the Wrong Team

For David Price, It’s the Wrong Month, Against the Wrong Team


BOSTON — It has gone beyond a streak, past a trend and into the realm of the bizarre.

David Price, a very good left-handed pitcher in the regular season, a five-time All-Star in fact, cannot win a start in the postseason. And he has had his chances — 10 of them, in fact — and whatever team he was pitching for at the time has lost all 10 of those games.

Saturday night was another fiasco to add to this list of the lost. Price, 33, who is in the middle of a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox, gave up three runs before being removed with two outs in the second inning, and he took still another postseason loss in a 6-2 Yankees victory that evened the American League division series at a game apiece.

It was the latest addition to a string of futility that thumbs its nose at probability.

Consider that Price’s record in his 10 postseason starts with Tampa Bay, Detroit, Toronto and Boston is now 0-9 with a 6.03 earned run average.

Compare those numbers with his career record in the regular season: 143-75 with a fine 3.25 E.R.A. He won the Cy Young Award in 2012, when he was 20-5 with the Rays. Since joining Boston, and dealing at times with injuries, he is 39-19 with a 3.74 E.R.A. And this year, he was terrific in the second half of the regular season, going 11-3 with a 3.33 E.R.A.

Now the postseason has arrived, again. Surely, by dint of the law of averages or just sheer luck, Price should have won Game 2 on Saturday. But he didn’t.

“I know I’m capable of winning games as a starter in October,” Price said afterward. “That’s what I look forward to doing.”

On Saturday, the trail of postseason misery was compounded by his mounting history of failure against the Yankees. Price is 15-14 in the regular season against them, with a 4.90 E.R.A., but those numbers obscure an increasing ineffectiveness.

Indeed, since he joined the Red Sox for the 2016 season, Price’s record against the Yankees, including Saturday, is 2-8 with a 7.95 E.R.A. This year alone, it reached almost absurd levels as he went 0-3 against them in the regular season with a 10.34 E.R.A. and surrendered nine home runs in four games.

If you include Saturday’s fiasco, Price’s numbers against the Yankees this season look like this: 0-4 in five starts with a 10.90 E.R.A. and 11 home runs surrendered. Awful.

“They make it tough for me,” said Price, who was paid $30 million this year, alone. “Knowing that, you have to go out there and execute big pitches in big spots in counts. That’s something I wasn’t able to do tonight.”

In addition to the two home runs he gave up in Game 2 — to Aaron Judge and to Gary Sanchez — Price also yielded a run-scoring rocket of a single by Andrew McCutchen that rattled the 37-foot-high Green Monster in left field. The hit would have been a homer in many ballparks.

The essence of a successful Red Sox pitcher is to beat the Yankees and win in October, and sometimes both. Failing to do so can make things pretty uncomfortable, which is exactly the position Price finds himself in.

In fairness to Price, it should be noted that he can claim some late-season and October success over his 11-season career. In 2013, he started and earned a complete-game victory in a wild-card tiebreaker against the Texas Rangers, although that is considered a regular-season game.

And as a rookie in 2008, he earned a four-out save for the Rays in the A.L. Championship Series against Boston. In addition, he tossed six and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief in Boston’s division series with the Houston Astros last season.

After the latest disaster on Saturday night, Red Sox Manager Alex Cora was asked if he might send Price to the bullpen for the rest of the series against the Yankees. Cora made that option sound possible, but he also said such a move would not be for the rest of the postseason — should the Red Sox advance.

“No, no, he’s one of our starters,” Cora said. “Just a bad outing today. It just so happened it wasn’t his day. We trust him.”

Price said he would do whatever Cora asked. When Cora came to remove him on Saturday, the Yankees led, 3-0. The game was not out of hand. But there were two men on base and Judge was coming to the plate again. When asked afterward if he was upset by the quick hook, Price made his best delivery of the night.

“If I don’t like it,” he said, “I need to pitch better, period.”



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