BOSTON -- When the Red Sox centered their entire offseason around landing the dominant starter-closer duo of David Price and Craig Kimbrel, they envisioned days like Saturday when even the heavy-hitting Blue Jays wouldn't have much of a chance.
With the forgettable home opener against the Orioles in the rear-view mirror for the lefty ace and the righty flamethrower, the Fenway faithful had a thrilling day watching the two multi-time All-Stars go to work in a 4-2 win.
First, it was Price's turn. He scattered six hits over seven innings, but never seemed in trouble, walking none and striking out nine.
With two outs in the seventh, the crowd sensed Price's day was coming to an end, so they roared with each pitch. Price felt the moment and struck out Darwin Barney with a 93-mph fastball. In that final 1-2-3 frame, Price also struck out Chris Colabello and Russell Martin swinging.
"It's almost like he gave you the feeling there was that closer mentality in that final inning," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He finished his game today with a strong exclamation point to a solid outing for him. But anytime you go through that lineup three times, you've got very consistent location and multiple looks to get through a really strong lineup."
Of course, Kimbrel's job is just to go one inning, and he made it count.
Facing the meaty 3-4-5 combination of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki, Kimbrel struck out the side.
"I don't know that there are many guys in the league that can do it against those three guys," said Farrell. "That's two consecutive days in which he's come out and he generates that high-powered velocity. He's so smooth. You've got a curveball that's nearly 90 mph along with a fastball that's approaching 100. He's a unique animal, and glad he's in our uniform."
First, Kimbrel poured in a 97-mph heater that Bautista watched. Then, there was an 89-mph curve that Encarnacion waved at. And the day finished with Tulowitzki frozen as a 98-mph fastball went into the glove of catcher Christian Vazquez.
"It was coming in hot," said Vazquez. "He was painting the outside corner."
Price had similarly strong location in what was easily the finest of his first three starts for the Red Sox. The key was the way he mixed in his secondary pitches.
"You've got to have it," Price said. "If you can't keep hitters off balance, it's going to be tough to be successful. That's at any level. To me that's the definition of pitching, and that's what I try to do."
There figure to be many more occasions when Kimbrel finishes what Price starts.
"Big-time guys," said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. "That's why they are who they are. When the game is on the line, when you need that big out, those are the go-to guys."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.