Obviously, all eyes were on David Price for this start. The lefty, of course, had made some waves with his decision to not talk to the media on days he wasn’t pitching followed by a loud and public outburst directed at a media member after Wednesday’s game. Price is an important piece of this Red Sox team, and if he’s pitching well, people aren’t going to be concerned about his relationship with the media. If he doesn’t pitch well.....well, things will be different. On Thursday, Price did not pitch well.
Things just didn’t look the same for the southpaw as they did in his first two starts after rejoining the team from the disabled list. Price lost his command and control all game long, particularly after the first couple innings. Even in the first, though, he walked two batters before getting out of it. To be fair to Price, he was getting squeezed by the ump throughout this start, and it was clearly frustrating the starter. Still, he can’t let that affect his performance.
He’d lead off the second with another walk — his third in a four-at-bat span — before allowing a weak single to right field on a ball that looked as if it could have been caught if not for some miscommunication between Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley. With two runners on, Price did get two outs before allowing a single to give the Yankees their first run of the game.
Things only got worse in the third, when Price once again allowed two baserunners to reach to start the inning. Then, after recording the first out, he left a fastball right over the middle of the plate to Gary Sanchez. You don’t want to leave a fastball right down the middle to Gary Sanchez. The young catcher clobbered it into the left field seats to give New York a 4-0 lead. Price would allow two more singles before getting out of the inning.
He settled down for the fourth when he had his first and only stress-free inning of the night, setting the middle of New York’s lineup down 1-2-3. Then, with over 90 pitches to his name already, he came back out for the fifth and promptly allowed a single before leaving another pitch over the middle of the plate to Sanchez. This time, the catcher went the other way but it still went over the fence.
Price would end up going five innings in this game and the results were rarely pretty. There was some squeezing being down by the ump behind the plate, but that’s not to blame here. Price had no command and left far too many pitches up and over the plate. This Yankees lineup is too good to do that against. I’m writing this before his postgame press conference, but I can say I’m not looking forward to reading about it tomorrow morning. (I’m already up past my bedtime as I write this at 9:45.)
On the other side of things, the Red Sox offense had another no-show against Yankees pitching. As it’s always important to do, the pitcher deserves credit here. Michael Pineda is a good pitcher and he had his best stuff going in this one. He didn’t leave a ton of pitches over the middle of the plate — although there were some and the Red Sox simply missed them — and his slider in particular was incredibly difficult to hit.
Still, Boston couldn’t muster any good contact or really sustain any rallies against the Yankees starter. They got a few baserunners in the first, but one — Betts, to lead off the inning -- was immediately caught stealing. The other two runners came on a weak infield single and a walk. Then, they went down 1-2-3 before putting their only run of the game on the board in the fourth. That came because of an error to put the leadoff man on, a bunt single against the shift, a double play to move the leadoff runner to third, and a wild pitch to score him. The Sox will obviously take runs however they can get them, but that was not exactly a confidence-inspiring sequence.
Besides that, it was a listless night...again. This is happening too often for a team of this caliber, and while the overall numbers are fine and the team is still in the thick of it, this can’t continue to happen. Pineda is a good pitcher, but he has a habit of giving up a ton of hard contact. The Red Sox couldn’t take advantage of that habit on Thursday.
In the bullpen, Boston turned to Fernando Abad and Brandon Workman. They...did not do too well in mop-up duty, which is probably why they’re in mop-up duty.
It’s been a frustrating two days for the Red Sox, and the negativity around the team is understandable. Still, at the end of the day, they went 5-5 on a tough road trip. That’s not what we were hoping for, but it keeps their head above water. Next up the team has seven games coming against the Tigers and Phillies. They need to take care of these teams that they should beat to get back on the right track.