David Price

Maddie Meyer/USA Today Sports

This new David Price has Red Sox on verge of World Series championship

John Tomase
October 24, 2018 - 11:22 pm
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The rest of David Price’s life is off to a smashing start.

Price’s postseason win against the Astros last week marked the permanent destruction of one career narrative and the start of whatever comes next. Like an underwater eruption that creates an island out of sea, Price’s future feels uncharted and unburdened.

When he threw six scoreless innings on three days rest to clinch the American League Championship Series in Houston, he shed the yolk that had choked him for a decade. In postseason start No. 12, David Price finally earned victory No. 1.

We suspected nothing would ever be the same, and on Wednesday in Game 2 of the World Series, Price took a first confident step towards proving it.

Lacking the overpowering stuff he featured in Houston, Price nonetheless stymied the Dodgers over six effective innings of in a 4-2 victory that gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead as the series shifts back to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4, and 5.

“To be honest with you, it's the David Price we've seen in Tampa Bay, the David Price we've seen in Detroit and Toronto, here with us,” said pitching coach Dana LeVangie. “Anytime David takes the ball, you have a really good chance of winning the baseball game. His commitment to executing pitches, his commitment to his pitch mix, really special to watch him pitch and have success finally in the postseason.”

The transformation feels simultaneously startling and inevitable. We knew that Price’s talent would eventually translate to the postseason, but after the Yankees KO’d him in the second inning of his ALDS debut, it felt like perhaps he’d have to wait yet another year.

But manager Alex Cora demonstrated his faith in the big left-hander by cornering him during the ALDS celebration in New York to tell him he’d be starting Game 2 against the Astros, and the skipper’s confidence was ultimately rewarded in Game 5, the biggest start of Price’s life.

That set the stage for Wednesday, and Price didn’t disappoint. Facing a lineup comprised entirely of right-handed hitters, he limited the Dodgers to three hits and two runs in six innings, walking three and striking out five.

“I think he just had all his pitches,” said Dodgers first baseman David Freese. “I think he was confident. In the last outing, he was like, alright, sure, let’s go – and he came out and did the same thing. He’s got good action on his ball, he comes at you slow and then lets it rip, so you’ve got to stay stubborn and stay back, and try and pound him back up the middle to death, and if you clip something, so be it. You watch the action on his ball, moving towards you, moving away, and it was really good tonight.”

Save for a rough fourth inning that saw Price load the bases with no outs before limiting the damage to two runs, the Dodgers managed next to nothing.

“That was a tough inning,” Price said. “It could have spun out of control pretty fast. And it's been one of my Achilles heels, especially in the playoffs and even in the regular season, is that big inning. Being able to stop it at two right there after the (Yasiel) Puig hit to center, that was big for us.”

Price retired the final seven batters he faced and probably could’ve returned for the seventh at 88 pitches if Cora wanted to roll the dice. But considering the manager’s aggressive use of his starters as relievers, pulling Price increased the likelihood the $217 million man will be available should Cora need a big out or two on the road.

Price could be just the man to give it to him, because that’s what he does now. Once adrift in October, his game’s best viewed through interlocked panic fingers, he’s now where the Red Sox turn for safe harbor.

“It's huge,” Price said. “This is the biggest stage in baseball. There's no other stage that's going to be bigger than pitching in a World Series game, unless it's Game 7 of the World Series. To be able to do that, it feels good, for sure. I'm pumped for myself, pumped for all my teammates and coaches for us to be two wins away, and I'm 2-0 right now in the World Series, that's a good feeling.”

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