This loss was all about David Price the pitcher, not the talker

Rob Bradford
July 20, 2019 - 9:17 am

We've said it a few times over the last few days: This latest dust-up involving David Price and Dennis Eckersley had a short shelf-life. That is a no-brainer.

The other piece of the puzzle when it comes to Price, figuring out on-field performance? After Friday night, the Red Sox better hope that dissolves just as rapidly.

This team can deal with 24-hour bouts of drama. What they can't live with these days are the kind of pitching performances turned in by the lefty against one of the worst teams in baseball, the Orioles.

"Anything off the field, it doesn’t affect the way I prepare, affect the way that I pitch," Price told reporters after the Red Sox' 11-2 loss. "That doesn’t affect me at all. I’m sure it’ll be used in Boston, but it doesn’t affect me." (For a complete recap, click here.)

Following his 18th start of the season, Price -- who finished his night giving up six runs on eight hits over four innings -- understandably wanted to focus on the here and the now. The problem was that was, and is, more unnerving for Alex Cora's club than anything that permeated the Fenway Park home clubhouse Wednesday or Thursday.

"It’s one start," Price added in his post-start media session. "You want to talk about performances, you can go back to the playoffs last year, you can go back to what I’ve done here the last two years. You’re all going to portray that whatever way you want to. I can’t control that. That’s perception that’s laid on me and that’s part of it."

He's right. It is one start. But much in the same way we shouldn't link up the harp on Price's Wednesday afternoon Eck-related salvo, there also can't be the defaulting to what he has done leading up to his turn-for-the-worse at Camden Yards. Price's on-field value has been well-chronicled, as has the off-field roller coaster ride regarding media matters.

The lefty has been the Red Sox' most consistent starter this season, having gone 46-22 with a 3.79 ERA in 99 regular season starts with this team. There was also his hold-all-the-cards postseason a year ago. Still, whether it is emanating from the player or outside the clubhouse, the ups and downs regarding the perception of the 33-year-old's existence don't figure to be leveling off any time soon.

But this is about the here and the now, and nothing else. And that was a conversation that has to change immediately.

The Red Sox sit three games out of a Wild Card spot and (gulp) 11 games back of the American League East-leading Yankees. Keeping pace heading into the final two games in Baltimore was supposed to be a no-brainer considering you had a starting pitcher who had never loss when pitching on the Camden Yards mound against a club that was 37 games under .500. It didn't go as planned. Such a hiccup won't be nearly as negotiable the next time Price pitches, which will come at Tropicana Field against the Rays.

Price and his team were bad against a bad team. It happens. At this point, however, there is just about no vacancy when it comes to room for error.

"This is definitely one of the worst, especially when you talk from a team standpoint," Bogaerts told reporters. “They’re not one of the leading teams in any category or one of the top teams, and I think they’re last in the division. For them to beat us like they did, they came out playing some good baseball today."