There has been very little to complain about with these Red Sox over the past four wins. But Thursday night, they provided the most perfect win of them all.
I am going to assume that the start to the first inning was little more than showmanship on the part of David Price, because it is the only way I can explain how the man who recorded 20 outs for the Red Sox tonight was involved. The Astros started the game with Jose Altuve squaring up the first pitch he hit for a line drive single that Chris Young wasn't able to make a sliding grab on, and then saw George Springer send a ground ball right back up the middle for another.
Woe is David Price, woe are Red Sox fans, here we go again.
Three pitches later, Carlos Correa was headed back to the dugout after swinging through a 93 MPH fastball. Four more saw Tyler White retired, albeit with an extraordinarily bad strike call. And while Marwin Gonzalez saw six pitches, he suffered the same fate, ending the inning with Price's third strikeout.
Boston's should-be ace did surrender a run in the second, but it was in the weakest possible way, with a bunt single and a Fenway double off the Monster that would have been an out in 29 other parks leading into Dustin Pedroia botching a ground ball. But he also racked up three more strikeouts in the frame, then finally let his fielders get involved with a double play ball in the third. Price returned to the strikeout with a seventh in the fourth, and then made it ten by striking out the side for the third time in the fifth. By the time his night was done, he would have 12.
But we've seen strikeouts from Price before. There needs to be more to it than that. And there was. Price's velocity was up, hitting 94 and occasionally 95! And what's more, that velocity translated to the swinging strikes on the fastball that it was always supposed to. And when they couldn't beat the fastball, Price's usual blend of offspeed offerings proved unfair. The Astros never added a run against him after that fluky first, and he got to leave the game with two down in the seventh to a standing ovation.
Still, the Red Sox had to score off former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. And unfortunately, they put up their worst performance on the homestand. Which is to say they scored only 11 runs.
Xander Bogaerts was the one to get things started in, of course, the first, going golfing for a low breaking ball to send it over the Monster for a two-run shot. They responded to the one run Price allowed in the second with Jackie Bradley Jr. driving in Christian Vazquez, and with three more hits from David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Chris Young in the third, the Sox quickly made it 5-1.
With the way David Price was pitching, it was already more-or-less a blowout. And Dallas Keuchel could have left with five runs in five innings (which is basically a case for the Cy Young award right now) after pitching a pair of scoreless frames. But he returned for the sixth, and Mookie Betts made him pay, depositing a first-pitch changeup into the Monster seats for a three-run shot to make it 8-1.
All that was left? To reach double digits for a fourth straight game, accomplished with Travis Shaw finally making it all nine Red Sox starters with a hit on an RBI double into the right field gap in the seventh, and Xander Bogaerts doubling home Brock Holt (Boston's tenth man with a hit!) and scoring himself on a David Ortiz sac fly that would've been a homer if his bat hadn't cracked. All told, 14 hits, 11 runs, another ace left smoldering in their wake.
Whether because Dustin Pedroia diagnosed the problem (Price's delivery was absolutely back to what it used to be), or just gave Price a reason to believe he was fixed, all is suddenly well with Boston's $217 million man. And God knows there's nothing wrong with the lineup. Now the Red Sox hand the ball to their most reliable arm in Steven Wright in search of six straight wins. All is right in Fenway Park.