BOSTON – Thirty-six minutes into his latest postseason fiasco, David Price, the highest-paid pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball, slunk from the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park to the Boston Red Sox’s dugout. Boos cascaded. He took off his cap, then put it back on. He inhaled through his nose, exhaled through his mouth, tapped his chest. His eyes looked down the entire time.
Already one of the shoddiest playoff starters ever, Price had turned in the worst outing of his October career Saturday night. In the Red Sox’s 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees that tied the best-of-five American League Division Series at a game apiece, he faced 10 hitters and got five outs. The other five batters went home run, home run, walk, walk, single. And with that, Red Sox manager Alex Cora went to commence Price’s final walk: one of shame.
The 33-year-old Price, who the Red Sox signed before the 2016 season to a seven-year, $217 million contract, saw his career postseason ERA balloon to 5.28 with three runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings. His starts have been particularly disastrous: 10 games, 10 losses by his team. None were as short as the mess Price turned in a day after the Red Sox’s bullpen was taxed in a 5-4 Game 1 victory.
On the 10th pitch of Price’s night, Aaron Judge demolished a 91-mph cutter 445 feet, his third home run in as many postseason games, to stake the Yankees a quick lead and frazzle the nerves of the 39,151 at Fenway. Gary Sánchez led off the next inning with a home run, and after a pair of groundouts, Price’s spiral continued with walks to Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner. Andrew McCutchen whacked a single off the Green Monster, and Cora had seen enough, even knowing he would need to get 22 outs from his bullpen.
For the most part, they obliged, separate from a seventh inning in which Sanchez hit an otherworldly three-run home run – an estimated 479 feet, to the right of the second light stanchion on the Monster and out of Fenway. Sanchez became the 10th catcher in major league history with a two-homer playoff game – and the first Yankee since Yogi Berra in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series.
Eduardo Rodriguez, the Red Sox starter pushed into a relief role, could only hang his head and peer back sheepishly, knowing he’d handed the Yankees the cushion they so desired. They wanted no part of giving Boston a chance to get back in the game, not with home-field advantage at stake. Now the Yankees head home with Games 3 and 4 and a chance to wrap up the series – and oust the 108-win Red Sox – at Yankee Stadium.
Price’s status is unclear. With Rick Porcello likely to start Game 3, Nathan Eovaldi Game 4 and Chris Sale Game 5, Cora could use him in a relief role. The question at this point, after the latest debacle, is whether he’d even want to.
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