Red Sox hope David Price will finally get it right in ALCS Game 2

BOSTON – By his own estimation, David Price has been trying to answer the question for eight years now and yes, the lack of an acceptable answer is growing weary.

Left unsaid is that the solution lies in how he performs from one place – some sixty feet and six inches from home plate at Fenway Park.

Including a blowout loss to the New York Yankees in this year’s ALDS (and three with the Blue Jays in 2015) Price is a well-documented 0-9 in 10 playoff starts with a rather inflated ERA, numbers completely out of whack with the rest of his impressive body of work.

In his career with the Red Sox, by comparison, Price is 39-19 owning a better than serviceable 3.74 ERA. He’s a reliable regular-season starter who just can’t follow it up in October.

So as tiresome as it has become, with the stakes high in Game 2 of the World Series, Price once again was asked on Saturday: What gives?

“I don’t really have an answer,” Price said, politely and with just the hint of a sigh. “I feel like I’ve given some answers the past eight years.

“(I) haven’t been successful the way that I know I can be and will be. I look forward to getting out there (on Sunday.)”

Safe to say that not all among the tough crowd known as Red Sox faithful feel the same way about Price getting the ball. After allowing two homers and just getting five outs in Game 2 vs. the Yankees, the Nashville native was given the hook and exited to a chorus of boos.

The performance married with Price’s track record was so tawdry that many among the Red Sox faithful figured he wouldn’t see the mound as a starter again this series.

First-year Boston manager Alex Cora had other ideas, however, and didn’t hesitate to tell Price he’d be second in his rotation vs. the World Series champs.

There’s any number of ways to evaluate the call, starting with the fact that Cora has few options, but followed up by the fact that Price has actually pitched fairly well against the Astros. Cora also said that they’ve worked on a few things in the interim to help Price better attack hitters.

If the Boston fans – who haven’t been shy to get on his case at various points in his tenure here – were restless about the call, Price said he anticipated nothing less.

“I did expect to make more starts for us in this year’s playoffs,” Price said.  “But Alex told me before we even got off the field that night (of the Yankees loss.) So for him to tell me before we even took our jerseys off to put on our postseason shirts that we get when we win, that was special.”

It’s not a huge stretch to suggest that the Red Sox will have trouble upending the World Series champs without something from Price. The front end of the Astros rotation – Game 1 starter Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in Game 2 – is just two damn tough.

His Red Sox teammates have seen enough of Price to believe the regular season to playoffs disparity is something that must break eventually. Of course to have a shot against the Astros, they pretty much need it.

“We still have the confidence in him,” Boston’s Game 1 starter, Chris Sale said. “We know who he is. He’s been one of the best left-handed pitchers in this game for 10 years. (The ALDS) is behind us. We won that series. So that doesn’t matter. We’re facing the Houston Astros now.

“He’s pitched well against the Astros the last couple of years so I like where we’re at.”

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THAT’S NO BULL

There’s a reason the Astros have been dominant late in post season games, outscoring opponents 13-0 in the seventh inning and beyond. Obviously offence drives the flash end of that stat, but manager A.J. Hinch is adamant that he’s got as good a bullpen as there is in baseball.

Ryan Pressly has been a perfect eighth inning setup man for former Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna giving Hinch plenty of power at his disposal.

As much as this series will be dominated by marquee starting matchups, it could be the bullpen that decides it given the questionable depth in the Red Sox version.

“We don’t care when we pitch guys or what inning it is or trying to label guys what they are,” Hinch said. “We want to have a collection of relievers that can come in at any time. There’s different angles and different strengths. It’s the best bullpen I’ve ever been around.”

The stats certainly back up that versatility. The 2018 Astros are one of just seven teams in history with at least three pitchers with 12 saves or more – Hector Rondon (15) and Osuna and Ken Giles with a dozen each. The latter two, of course, switched teams in late July in a swap between the Astros and Jays.

OCTOBER BASEBALL

With Boston the only remaining cold-weather venue remaining among the final four does it give the Red Sox an edge?

Even though first pitch temperature was 9 Celsius on Saturday Cora doesn’t figure his team will benefit.

“These guys, they’ve got a lot of stuff now,” Cora said. “You know like back in the day it was a pair of sleeves and that was it. They’ve got the cage inside. They’ve got ways to keep warm.

“There’s probably going to be a few ski masks out there. I’ve got my money on (Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel) wearing a ski mask tonight. He doesn’t like the cold weather.”

AROUND THE BASES

The Astros entered Saturday’s game with home runs in 12 consecutive post-season games, equalling the American League record set by the Orioles in series  that took place in 1983 and again in ’97. In those 12 games, the Astros have hit 26 out of the park … Including their Game 3 win to eliminate the Indians in Cleveland, the Astros had won 16 of their past 19 on the road prior to Saturday’s action … Verlander entered Game 1 with 12 career postseason tied for fourth highest in MLB history along with Roger Clemens. Andy Pettitte is the all-time leader with 19.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies