David Price is hit

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David Price failed to dodge comebacker, but here's why it looks like Red Sox dodged bullet

John Tomase
August 29, 2018 - 10:40 pm

The most encouraging moment of the 11-run seventh that blew open Wednesday's 14-6 victory over the Marlins occurred in the Red Sox dugout.

As Boston piled up 12 hits while sending 15 men to the plate, left-hander David Price emerged from the clubhouse and pounded the railing in glee. He smiled and flashed the hang-10 sign at teammates rounding the bases.

He limited his displays of exuberance to his right hand, because his left arm sported a brace, the result of a 102 mph line drive off the left wrist that had knocked him from the game in the third inning.

X-rays were negative and the team announced he'll undergo further tests. That information alone would've been cause for concern that the team's most effective starter could soon be joining ace Chris Sale on the sidelines -- perhaps indefinitely. But the sight of Price leading the cheers from the dugout suggested that whatever injury he suffered, it won't end his season.

And ultimately, that news matters a lot more than beating up on the woeful Marlins, who actually led 5-3 before the Red Sox exploded with an inning reminiscent of their 14-run first-inning outburst against Florida in a 25-8 victory 15 years ago.

"I think I'm going to be all right," Price told reporters. "I've been hit a couple of times this year. I think I'll be OK."

The importance of Price at this juncture cannot be overstated. With Sale's status uncertain despite the team's assurances that he'll be ready by late September, Price had stepped into the breach as the legitimate No. 1 starter the Red Sox signed for $217 million just three years ago.

He got off to a slow start on Wednesday, allowing five hits and three runs in three innings, but the Red Sox still won for the ninth straight time with Price on the mound. He entered the game 5-0 with a 2.05 ERA since surrendering five home runs to the Yankees on July 1.

"He's a big part of what we're trying to accomplish," manager Alex Cora told reporters. "The way he's been throwing the ball obviously it sucks to see that. We've been going through this the whole season. I know people don't talk about that and we don't care either. But we've been battling through it the whole season. Somebody has to step up, and they've done a good job."

The play itself could've caused a serious injury. Austin Dean, who'd later homer, drilled a comebacker at Price's head. The left-hander had just enough time to flash his arm in front of his face and the ball caught him on the outside of the wrist just below the thumb.

It ricocheted to first baseman Steve Pearce, and Price had the presence of mind to cover the bag for the final out of the inning before heading directly to the clubhouse.

"I knew it hit me flush and it caught bone, so I knew it was hit hard," Price said. "I knew it went to my left. . . . I put my hand up as a reaction so it didn't hit me in the face."

The Red Sox have reached the gut-check portion of their season and they're answering the call, though the competition has certainly helped. Their division lead sliced to six and their bullpen in tatters after losing six of eight, the Red Sox have rebounded with consecutive wins over the Marlins to boost their lead back to 7 1/2 games.

Though more issues remain than they'd care to address at this point in the season, at least it looks like Price dodged a bullet. Of all the people they can ill afford to lose entering the postseason, Price belongs near the top of the list.