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Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2: David Price throws controversy a curveball

Rob Bradford
May 12, 2018 - 10:26 pm

The talk of allergies, Fortnite, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, elbows, cold hands, cold feet and whatever else has circled David Price is being put on pause.

Saturday allowed for a dose of the only thing that matters when it comes to the Red Sox’ $217 million investment — the pitcher’s ability to pitch.

If the Red Sox are to get where they want to go, the lefty has to find his way to the mound and perform when he gets there. Heading into Saturday at Rogers Centre, eight of this team’s 12 losses have come with Chris Sale and Price starting. Not good.

This was a step in the right direction.

Price rebounded from a really bad five-start stretch (that amounted to a 1-4 record with an 8.22 ERA), allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings on the way to a 5-2 win for the Red Sox over the Blue Jays. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Price said Thursday he is going to be pitching the rest of the year. So, if that’s the case then he has to duplicate what was witnessed this time around. That was without drama, and with a curveball.

It seems bizarre that so much emphasis would be on a pitch he threw just 10 times, with limited success. The curve was put in play just once, and that went for a double. And five of the pitches weren’t even strikes.

But the offering did represent something important — Price’s ability to adjust and actually start creeping closer to becoming the pitcher the Red Sox need him to be.

This is what assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister said earlier in the week when asked about Price: “I still think there is more upside with his changeup and the occasional curveball this year. He’s been so good with the fastball and cutter location, but he’s shown where the changeup and curveball have been dominant pitches. He’s had years in the past where mixing in the curveball, even as a small percentage of the mix, it was a very, very good pitch by run value. I think there is still more for him to tap into there.”

And there it was. A pitch he had thrown a total of 11 times all season — with one of the two that were put in play going for a home run — used to make the whole package work.

What Price did was throw the curveball six times on the first pitch of an at-bat, and twice as the second offering. Seven times he followed up the pitch with either a cutter or fastball, doubling up with a curve once.

The difference between his average fastball and the curve? Fourteen miles per hour. The separation with the cutter was 9 mph, with the changeup averaging 6 mph faster.

It was just enough. 

"That’s big, just to have that velocity separation, to be able to throw it 0-0 and get that strike," Price told reporters. "Not a lot of guys want to swing at that 0-0 curveball. So to be able throw that, get them off the other stuff and change eyesights is always key."

"I saw something different in the way he pitched today," Red Sox manager Alex Cora offered the media. "Everything — there was a difference in speeds, mixing up that breaking ball is very important. He induced to weak contact and they hit a few balls hard too but think he pitched today and that was good."

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s three days off didn't result in a turnaround for the outfielder, who finished going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to drop his batting average to .167. Conversely, Mookie Betts kept his hot hitting going with three hits, two of which were doubles. Betts is now hitting .356.

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