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Last Night, David Price Turned In His Best Start Of The Year, Which Was Arguably His Best Start With The Red Sox

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

It has been quite an interesting time for David Price since he signed with the Red Sox. That winter in 2015, Dave Dombrowski was faced with the challenge of acquiring an ace, a closer, and a fourth outfielder. He ended up with former All Star outfielder Chris Young, MLB’s saves leader since 2010, Craig Kimbrel, and the 2012 Cy Young award winner and the Cy Young runner-up from the year prior, David Price.

The concerns with Price were all pretty obvious — a lengthy, big money contract, a pitcher in his 30’s, a poor postseason track record, played most of his career in a small market in Tampa, a rocky relationship with Red Sox fans because of a rift with David Ortiz, and had a history of not handling media scrutiny very well. For all the concerns that were there at the start, there was a lot to like, too, obviously, since the Red Sox shelled out $217 million to get him here. Great numbers at Fenway, familiar with the division, didn’t cost a draft pick, lefty, great teammate, etc. But most importantly, and perhaps the most forgotten reason of all, Price is a really good fucking pitcher. You don’t rack up multiple All Star selections, MVP and Cy Young votes and awards if you’re not actually good. That fact became forgotten once Price got off to a very poor start in 2016.

One of the things that I love most about Red Sox fans is that they don’t give a fuck about what you did before you got here. The perfect example of that would be Pablo Sandoval. Oh, you won three World Series titles? That’s awesome. What’d you do for me, though? Absolutely nothing? Great, go fuck yourself. You’ve gotta earn it here in this city. Sandoval never did that, and now we know that he never will, either. Price, though…Price can still earn it. And he wants to earn it. Maybe not for us, the fans, but he wants to win here in Boston. Whatever his motivations may be, this is not a guy who signed a contract and somehow forgot how to pitch or mailed it in entirely like Sandoval did.

Back in March, the general consensus was that this season was going to be a disaster for Price. Either he was going to need elbow surgery before he even made a start, or not long after. It did not look good at all. Sports radio stations and TV talk shows had their medical “experts” come on to give their opinions on what the outlook for Price’s season looked like, and I didn’t hear one single optimistic diagnosis. Not one. None from the media, none from the fans, and certainly none from the so-called experts who are supposed to know things like this.

The fact of the matter is, everybody heals differently. And in the case of Price and his elbow, it appears that he has healed quite well, because here we are, ten starts into his 2017 season, and he just turned in his best outing of the year when most didn’t think he’d make it past his third start. Statistically, if you go by game score, last night’s start for Price against the Yankees was his best start of 2017, and it was his fourth best start in a Red Sox uniform. Me personally, and this is coming from a guy who watches every single game, I don’t really remember the top three. I would’ve guessed his 14-strikeout performance against Atlanta last year, but these are his top three starts since coming to Boston:

1.) August 22, 2016 @ TB — 8 innings, 2 hits, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts.
2.) July 10, 2016 Vs. TB — 8 innings, 4 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts.
3.) September 12, 2016 Vs. BAL — 8 innings, 2 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts.

That brings us to last night, when Price went eight shutout innings, gave up seven hits, no walks and struck out eight. The seven hits is obviously what throws off the whole game score thing, but in my opinion, this was Price’s best start ever in a Red Sox uniform. If Aroldis Chapman doesn’t completely melt down in the ninth inning on Friday night and gift wrap a win for the Red Sox, then they’re looking at possibly being swept in a four-game series to put the Yankees ahead of them by a half-game. Regardless, the real situation was pretty shitty in its own right with Boston potentially losing three of four and breathing new life back into New York’s season.

The other huge factor here? Price has been awful against the Yankees since he’s arrived in Boston. Here are his starts against New York since the start of last year coming into Sunday night:

May 1, 2016 Vs. NYY — 7 innings, 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 HR.
May 7, 2016 @ NYY — 4.2 innings, 7 hits, 6 earned runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, 0 HR.
July 17, 2016 @ NYY — 5.2 innings, 11 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 0 HR.
September 17, 2016 Vs. NYY — 6 innings, 9 hits, 5 earned runs, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts, 1 HR.
September 27, 2016 @ NYY — 6.1 innings, 12 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 3 HR.
June 8, 2017 @ NYY — 5 innings, 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, 2 HR.

Coming into last night, in six starts against the Yankees as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Price had an 8.31 ERA, and a 1.88 WHIP. For those keeping score at home, that’s 32 earned runs in 34.2 innings. Actually bad. That’s why I’m putting Price’s start last night at the top of the list since he joined the Red Sox. Boston lost two games in that series in which they got a great start from Chris Sale on Saturday, and a pretty good start from Rick Porcello in the first game on Sunday. With the offense literally doing absolutely nothing in those two games, with the standings being where they were at, with Price’s track record against the Yankees as a member of the Red Sox, and with Red Sox fans still waiting to see the true ace that Price had been throughout his career, this was the one.

And by “the one”, I mean that this was the start that we had been waiting for. Even last year — how many times did we react to a Price start being like, well, it was good, but it wasn’t great. He can still be better. And Price himself would even echo those same sentiments in his postgame comments. I need to be better. I need to be better. I need to be better. Well, when exactly are you going to be better? We’ve been waiting for it, and, finally, there it was last night in a game when the Red Sox needed it more than ever. After playing (and losing) in 16 innings on Saturday, and after playing a day game before the night game on Sunday, the bullpen was taxed, the players were exhausted, and they needed somebody to pick them up. Price did that.

Hey, his relationship with the fans may never get to the point where he’s labeled as a “fan favorite”, but I’m telling you, Price in Boston can still work out. To borrow a line from sports talk radio callers, he’s just gotta “shut up and pitch”. No more media blowups. No more making light of his postseason record on Twitter. No more snarky comments about his contract to reporters. If Price just goes out there and pitches how he pitched against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, one by one, the media will start to change their tone, as will the fans who looped Price in with the likes of Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval.

After last night’s start, Price now owns a 3.39 ERA this season. The only time that his ERA has been lower than that in Boston has been his second start of this year (3.00), and his first start ever with the Red Sox back on April 5, 2016 (3.00). Price started out his Red Sox career with a 6.75 ERA through his first seven starts. Since then, he’s made 38 starts, and has a 3.39 ERA, which is the 10th best in the American League over that span. The narrative that Price has been a “bust” in Boston is very, very inaccurate.

And for as great as Price was, the play of the night undoubtedly belongs to Jackie Bradley Jr., who absolutely robbed the shit out of Aaron Judge, taking away a two-run home run to protect Price’s shutout, which prevented the Yankees from getting within a run in the eighth inning. I’ve never seen anybody rob a home run in that part of the ballpark before in my life. I always piss and moan because the buzz of the crowd at Fenway Park will never be the same in a post-2004 world, but that crowd was buzzing at Fenway Park from the moment that Bradley made that catch until the final out of the game. They’re going to be replaying that one for a long, long time.

Final score: Red Sox 3, Yankees 0