Bradford: David Price's big change

Rob Bradford
October 19, 2018 - 3:50 am

USA Today Sports

HOUSTON -- There was a lot for Dana LeVangie to celebrate Thursday night.

The Red Sox pitching coach had witnessed David Price do what many thought would never be possible, dominate a postseason game in which he started. And to make the picture even prettier for LeVangie was that the six shutout innings game on three days rest, after throwing 40 pitches in the bullpen the night before and with a trip to the World Series on the line.

But there was one instance that stood out for LeVangie.

"My favorite moment was when he walked off the mound, shook (Alex Cora's) hand and said, ‘(Expletive) yeah!’ We all loved it," the pitching coach in the midst of his team celebrating its 4-1, American League Championship Series-clinching win over the Astros.

There was a lot that built up to the exclamation. There was also plenty behind the screams let out by Price while walking off the mound after throwing his 93rd and final pitch of the night.

This was the moment Price and everyone judging his existence in a Red Sox uniform had put on a pedestal. Was it his last chance to change the can't-win-in-the-postseason narrative? Maybe not. But it still felt that way. Now it was a conversation washed away with an absolutely dominating outing and the champagne that followed.

"It feels good," Price said. "I don’t think I’m going to have to answer that question next year in spring training, or Sept. 1, when that day comes. I don’t have to answer that question now, and that feels good."

The pitcher added, "My last thought last night before I went to bed was probably a little bit different. The night before I pitch I’m just envisioning myself making pitches, and last night I envisioned myself doing this right here. And going through my head what I was going to say. I’m happy it happened."

But what should be understood is that this didn't just happen because Price might have appeared to be due. This was about some timely change ... and a timely change(up).

Through all the media controversies and ill-timed poor performances, some of the qualities that his teammates and coaches have admired when it comes to Price every step of the way were on full display over the past two days. It started with the pitcher's willingness to jump into the fray as a relieving option in Game 4. And while throwing those pitches in the eighth and ninth innings Wednesday night another quality was surfaced -- the ability to fix himself.

Without the knowledge of LeVangie, Price made two alterations during his time out in the bullpen. First was the positioning of his hands while setting up for pitches. Then came what the pitching coach classified as more "back to front," or up and down instead of side to side. What the combination did was spark life in his changeup, the pitch that would ultimately carry Price through his Game 5 start.

"It’s one thing about David is he’s really, really intelligent about finding something that works," LeVangie said. "His ability to make small little adjustments or take advice along the way is really good. ... I noticed it right away. You could see the action of (the changeup)."

Price ended up throwing the pitch 39 times, getting 12 swings and misses on it. It was flat-out dominant. It made the man this time around.

"They weren’t hitting it," the pitcher deadpanned.

"I’m not going to say everyone is willing to do what David did tonight, pitching on short rest after warming up for the game last night. Not everyone is on board for that," LeVangie said. "David has been that way since he’s been with us. Very special."

Price has made changes before. He this is hardly his first stellar start. But adding up the whole package, it was an opportunity to remember all that is right when it comes to this pitcher. Because as we have come to know all too well, it has been all too easy to forget.

"It made all of us feel good," said Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello of Price's night. "It got us to the World Series."

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