Tomase: David Price delivers another playoff disaster and this one reeks like roadkill

John Tomase
October 06, 2018 - 11:21 pm
David Price

Paul Rutherford/USA Today Sports

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The Fortnite, the tingly fingers, the stupidity with Eck, the carpal tunnel, the $217 million contract, the surliness, the seeming contempt for his fan base, and of course, the history of postseason futility -- David Price dragged it all to the mound like a dead caribou on Saturday.

And there the carcass festered, stinking and rotting, as Price attempted to erase the only item on his misery index that could undo the rest.

Pitch well in Game 2 vs. the Yankees, finally win a postseason start, and all may not be forgotten, but it would be forgiven. Red Sox fans suggested as much by giving Price a standing ovation while he trotted to the bullpen before the game, and he tipped his cap in appreciation. They desperately want an excuse to love the guy, if only Price could provide it.

He could not. Price delivered the worst postseason start of his life, which is saying something. He left the mound to a deluge of boos, unable to finish the second inning on a night when the Red Sox desperately wanted to limit the number of pitches entrusted to their heart attack bullpen, but instead dropped a 6-2 decision that evened the series.

Some thought he doffed his cap towards the jeers, but he simply appeared to remove it in frustration, or perhaps as an involuntary means of distraction, since the alternative meant facing the carnage of his own making.

In nine previous winless playoff starts, Price had always at least reached the fourth inning, which isn't exactly a bar worthy of Javier Sotomayor, especially for a former Cy Young Award winner.

But there's a first time for everything, and on Saturday night, that meant Red Sox manager Alex Cora striding from his dugout without hesitation and signaling for Joe Kelly in the second after a wall-ball RBI single by Andrew McCutchen that would've been 20 rows deep in Yankee Stadium.

With Aaron Judge looming, Cora knew better than to give the slugger another shot at Price, not after his first swing had sent a baseball screaming over 113 mph to the farthest reaches of the Monster seats in left-center. And so Price trudged off the mound, his dead caribou leaving a trail of blood and viscera and putrefaction that will only continue decomposing until the redemption cycle restarts anew . . . unless the Red Sox season ends first.

It goes without saying that Price's performance leaves the Red Sox in a precarious position. With ace Chris Sale limited to 5 1/3 innings in his first start and presumptive Game 3 starter Rick Porcello already forced into a relief appearance, a case can be made that the Red Sox barely employ a single reliable pitcher. Even closer Craig Kimbrel allowed a Game 1 homer, after all.

Winning a World Series without Price meaningfully contributing rates as pretty much impossible, unless Nathan Eovaldi suddenly decides he's Kevin Brown.

And make no mistake, the Price who took the mound for Game 2 hardly looked Broadway-ready. He'll never be mistaken for Mark Buehrle in the pace department, but when he's going well, he at least keeps things moving. On Saturday, he returned to the sludge that marked his last playoff failure, a dispiriting Game 2 loss to the Indians in 2016 that saw Price take, oh, nine minutes between pitches.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. Price's exceptional second half feels fictional. The signature moments of his season involve varying degrees of surrender to the Yankees -- leaving with frostbite or whatever in April, allowing five homers in July, extending his run of postseason futility in particularly ghastly fashion on Saturday.

This is not where David Price or the Red Sox wanted to be, back at zero, wondering how much weight he can carry to the mound before he collapses and suffocates.

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