ARLINGTON, Texas — Say this for David Price: When he’s bad, he’s really, really bad.
And the Boston Red Sox ace has rarely been worse than he was on Friday night.
Facing the American League West-leading Texas Rangers, a chief nemesis throughout his career, Price was rocked for six runs in just 2 1/3 innings, his shortest start since April 22, 2015. He faced 18 batters and gave up 12 hits in what amounted to the third-worst start of his career based on game score, trailing only an Aug. 27, 2014, dud against the New York Yankees and an April 22, 2015, trouncing by the Yankees in a game played in snowy conditions in Detroit.
And if not for an improbable ninth-inning comeback in an 8-7 Red Sox victory on Friday, the question of why Price failed so miserably after a solid eight-start run would be the primary sports-talk topic in Boston on Saturday.
“I’m fine. You know, I’m fine,” Price said. “I just didn’t execute pitches. It’s not mechanics. It’s not pitch selection. It’s executing pitches. That’s all it is. Whenever I throw the ball well, it’s execution. Whenever I don’t, I didn’t execute. That’s what it is.”
Indeed, it was impossible to isolate any singular aspect of what went wrong. The Rangers hit almost everything Price threw, from Shin-Soo Choo‘s leadoff homer on a two-seam fastball to Elvis Andrus‘ two-run single on a cutter, Ian Desmond‘s RBI single on a changeup and Bobby Wilson‘s two-run single on a 93 mph heater.
“They were all over him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “There’s been some guys in that lineup he’s had some difficulty with, and that showed to be the case again tonight. But just consistent location was the difference in this one.”
You could almost see it coming. Entering the game, Price had a 5.15 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rangers and a 6.54 mark at Globe Life Park. Andrus (10-for-25), Choo (6-for-19) and Adrian Beltre (10-for-33) all had good numbers against him.
But Price also had lasted eight innings in three consecutive starts. After posting a 6.75 ERA through his first eight starts of the season, Price had a 2.47 ERA in his past seven, looking far more like the proven ace who received a $217 million contract in December.
So, perhaps this was merely a blip, a bad matchup, a reminder that Price isn’t always going to provide a quality start.
But what if it’s something more ominous?
Price, predictably, is unconcerned.
“I’m definitely comfortable here,” he said. “I haven’t thrown the baseball [well]. It’s a good hitting team. They hit lefties extremely well. … I just got to come out and throw the baseball better against these guys.”