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Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: David Price shines in victory

Another great start for the lefty

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox offense was hoping for a big day against a recently-struggling Felix Hernandez, but that didn’t exactly work out. It didn’t end up mattering, though, because David Price was phenomenal. The starting pitching as a whole is settling into some kind of groove right now, and Price is probably the best example of that as he is getting back to being the guy we saw at the very start of the year. Price was certainly the story of this game, but Xander Bogaerts played an important role as well, contributing both the go-ahead home run and a huge defensive play in the inning immediately after the dinger. The Red Sox will not be swept out west, at the very least.

We’ll start with the good news, and that is that Price had yet another great start. The lefty has been outstanding ever since his carpal tunnel/video game/Shaugnessy absurdness reached its nadir, and that continued on this trip out west. As has been the case for much of this season, Price was relying almost entirely on his fastball and his cutter, and seemed to be leaning even more on the fastball than usual. It’s a strategy that leaves him with a relatively small margin for error, but he was living on the edges of the zone with his best command, and when he has that going he can survive. He did more than survive in this game.

Through the first four innings, the Mariners were never really able to get anything going against the Red Sox lefty. They did get one runner on a single in the first, but he never advanced beyond first base and they proceeded to go down in order in the second inning. The third saw another runner reach, this time on a two-out bunt single, but Price quickly executed a pickoff play to end the inning having only faced three batters. The fourth was similarly easy as he set down the side in order, and after these four scoreless frames he had only thrown 51 pitches.

Unfortunately, as Price was doing that the Red Sox were not able to get much support going up against a diminished version of Felix Hernandez. However, despite the former perennial Cy Young contender not being his old self, not having the same kind of stuff and putting up lackluster numbers this year, he reminded people that he still has it in him to pitch extremely well at times. Although he no longer possesses the same big fastball that he boasted in his prime, the righty still gets some sick movement on his secondaries and his command was mostly on point in this game. Granted, the Red Sox did miss a few hittable pitches and found some bad luck on hard contact, but for the most part Hernandez did his part in limiting damage.

The Red Sox, like the Mariners, managed only a single in the first inning, though they did have a better time in the second. There, Rafael Devers started a rally with a one-out single, and he quickly stole second on a botched hit-and-run play to put himself into scoring position. After Eduardo Núñez struck out for out number two, Jackie Bradley Jr. came up looking to snap an 0-17 slump. He did just that, ripping a double into the right-field corner to put the Red Sox up 1-0. He’d be stranded at second, but they had the lead at least.

Hernandez settled in for a few innings after that, however, setting the Red Sox down in order in the third. In the fourth he allowed a two-out double to Devers, but nothing came of that, and in the fifth he allowed just a single to Christian Vazquez.

So, that brought us to the bottom of the fifth and Price ran into some bad luck that was mostly created by bone-headedness from his defense. The inning should have started with a pop out in foul ground, but Núñez failed to make the catch on what looked like an easy play by the wall. He wasn’t charged with an error, which was confusing, but the at bat continued for Kyle Seager. Predictably, he took advantage and got on with a single. After Ryon Healy followed up with a single of his own, Seattle had two on with nobody out. During the next at bat, Guillermo Heredia was set to lay down a sacrifice bunt, and Seager was cheating off second base. Because of that, Vazquez tried to catch him on a back pick, but Seager saw that coming and broke for third as soon as the Red Sox catcher wound up to make the throw. He’d make to third easily, and would soon score on a sacrifice fly. Price came back with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning, but the game was frustratingly tied up.

The Red Sox were looking to get that run right back in the bottom of the sixth, and J.D. Martinez started that effort with a leadoff single. It was the first time Boston started their half of an inning with a baserunner. Unfortunately, Mitch Moreland quickly followed that up with a double play. That brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate after having struck out in first two at bats, but he made up for it here. He got a two-strike fastball from Hernandez right down the heart of the plate and he smashed it out to left-center field for a solo homer. Just like that, the lead was back in the Red Sox favor.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Price came back out for the bottom half of the sixth looking for a shutdown inning, but after getting Dee Gordon to an 0-2 count, he hit him. With speed on first base, Jean Segura came to the plate and worked a long at bat. Finally, he hit a ground ball up the middle. However, Gordon was off on the pitch meaning Bogaerts was already headed towards the bag. He slid, made the stop, tapped the bag with his glove and made the throw to first for a massive and impressive double play. Price would get out of the inning facing only three batters and preserving the one-run lead.

After the Red Sox stranded a pair of runners in each of the seventh and eighth innings and Price tossed a scoreless seventh, Joe Kelly came on to try and get the lead to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. He accomplished just that, tossing a relatively easy scoreless frame that included just a single.

Boston would go down without a fight in the top half of the ninth, and it was indeed up to Kimbrel to protect a one-run lead against a team that has had a knack for winning these types of games of late. Things immediately got nerve-wracking for the Red Sox closer as he walked Mitch Haniger on four pitches. Haniger would then move to second base on the first pitch of the next at bat when it got by Vazquez, which was followed by a walk to Nelson Cruz. Kimbrel would get a big strikeout in the next at bat, and then he got a ground ball to Bogaerts at short that was converted into a double play to end the game and the threat.

The Red Sox will look to lock up at least a split in this series on Saturday night with Rick Porcello taking on James Paxton. First pitch is at 10:10 PM ET, and Jerry Remy is going to eat another grasshopper.


Courtesy of Fangraphs