This is exactly what the doctor ordered for both the Red Sox and their starter, David Price. The team was coming off a win, but it was closer than it probably should have been and they had to tax their bullpen a bit. Price, meanwhile, has caught the ire of the fanbase and media (what else is new) and more importantly has been struggling on the mound of late. He turned it around with perhaps his best start as a member of the Red Sox. The offense, led by a running Mookie Betts, was very good tonight as well, but let’s be honest. Thursday was all about Price.
There were a whole lot of good things about this game, but the story has to begin with Price. After his last few outings — really, ever since his electric two-start beginning to his season — were anywhere from mediocre to flat out bad, the lefty really needed a big start. This was especially true with the absurd Fortnite “controversy” hovering around him of late. One strong outing is not going to change people’s opinions, and if we’re being honest nor should it, but it’s impossible to discount anything we saw from Price in this game. His velocity was up and his command was perfect. There will be commentary about about his opponents, but it really wouldn’t matter who Price was pitching. He was locating 94-95 on the edges with his best cutter and changeup. That’ll work against everyone.
Really, there’s not much to say about many individual events from this game for Price, as he was never really pushed into any stressful situations by the opponent. All of his innings were relatively easy, and in fact he set down the first six batters he faced. Over the next three innings he’d allow one single in each, and two of them were to Danny Valencia who kills lefties in general and has had a ton of success against Price over their careers. The other was an infield single from Jonathan Schoop that travelled about six feet.
After that, Price got right back to cruising with a couple more 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh, and he was at only 71 pitches. He came back out and tossed another 1-2-3 in the eighth on only nine pitches, putting him a 19-pitch scoreless inning away from a Maddux. For those who don’t know, that’s a complete game shutout with under 100 pitches. Pretty impressive!
Unfortunately, he didn’t quite reach that mark. He scuffled a bit in the ninth, allowing a leadoff double to end a long at bat. After a couple of quick pop ups it looked like the Maddux might be his. Then, Manny Machado had to ruin that with a two-run home run to take the shutout away. Price still finished off the inning with fewer than 100 pitches on the day, and home run or no it was an incredible outing. In all, he allowed the two runs over the nine full innings on five hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. We’ll take that every time.
Meanwhile, the offense wasn’t having much of a tough time against Kevin Gausman, particularly after they got on base. The Orioles pitcher had no sense of how to hold runners on base in this game, and the Red Sox took full advantage of this bizarre turn of events. They got things started early, too, when Betts led off with a single and moved over to second on a stand-up stolen base. Yes, a stand-up stolen base. Like I said, it was bizarre how little attention Gausman was giving to baserunners in this game. Betts would come around a couple batters later when J.D. Martinez got a splitter that stayed up in the zone and he smashed it out to straightaway center field for what was already his eighth homer in May.
The Red Sox quieted down for a little bit after that until they broke the game open in the fifth. There, Jackie Bradley Jr. kicked things off with a walk, and then stole second on a pick off play where once again Gausman paid no mind to the runner. He’d move to third on a Betts single and then score on an Andrew Benintendi sacrifice fly to extend the lead to two. Betts then stole second on an identical play to Bradley’s, and after Hanley Ramirez reached on an infield single they pulled off a double steal. That gave Boston five stolen bases off Gausman in less than five full innings, with three coming from Betts. Eventually, both runners would come home on another massive shot from Xander Bogaerts out to left field. He has been abusing the light stanchions on the Monster this year, and it’s been awesome. Those six runs were more than enough for Price, of course.
The Red Sox will look to build off this strong victory on Friday as their series against Baltimore continues at Fenway. They’ll be putting Drew Pomeranz on the mound to take on Alex Cobb, with first pitch at 7:10 PM ET.