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Red Sox looking for David Price punctuation against Yankees

Rob Bradford
August 05, 2018 - 7:28 am

This couldn't be any more perfect.

The Red Sox have walked all over the Yankees for three games and now are making folks do a double-take when glancing at their 8 1/2-game lead in the American League East. There's only one thing that is missing. As good as it has been in and around Fenway Park, everyone knows it.

They need David Price to punctuate things.

"I don’t know if it’s the whole Yankee thing as it is him going out there and saying, ‘I’m still David Price,'" said Mookie Betts.

That's true. But there can be both. If the starting pitcher pushes aside the "Yankee thing" he will have defined himself as the David Price the Red Sox need him to be. It's why Sunday night offers that rare kind of exclamation mark you don't usually find in the second-to-last month of the regular season.

There's no question Price has seemingly figured out some things in the last five starts, since that moment he walked off the Yankee Stadium mound on July 1. The next one wasn't very good either, giving up four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. But in the last three outings, the lefty has totaled a 1.71 ERA and is coming off an eight-inning, one-run gem against the first-place Phillies.

There have been arm slot alterations. Movements from one side of the pitching rubber to the other. And, according to Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie perhaps the biggest change, the chance to link up with catcher Sandy Leon, who has caught Price's last three starts.

"I see a more relaxed David Price," LeVangie said. "I see a guy who is willing to do different things right now. I see a catcher behind the plate who is putting him in a really comfortable position, each pitch, each inning of every game that he pitches. There is a lot of trust. David carries less stress between each pitch because there is big trust with the guy behind the plate. Not that he didn’t have that with Christian, but Sandy is one of the best in the big leagues in being able to turn off the offense. The guy on the mound at that time is the most important thing every given day. He’s done a great job."

The numbers suggest LeVangie has a point, with Price's ERA sitting at 1.80 in the four games Leon has caught. And those two previous disasters against the Yankees this season? Those weren't Leon games.

It all sounds good, but it sounded good the day before that last Sunday night against the Yankees.

This time there is no room for interpretation. Either Price has it figured out and the Red Sox have one of the final pieces to what has become a fairly impressive puzzle, or the Yankees will have left town still able to hold that little bit of doubt over the Sox' head.

"We expect David Price to give us innings and give us a chance to win, regardless of the team," LeVangie said. "I don’t care if it’s New York or Kansas City or whoever. He did it against a really good team in Philadelphia. That’s a playoff team and he had a heck of a game. I expect the same (Sunday). I think he’s in a good spot right now, how he’s pitching. I like where we’re at."

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