On 14-K night, Price values 8 innings much more

Red Sox lefty stresses importance of pitching deep into games

On 14-K night, Price values 8 innings much more

ATLANTA -- David Price will let everyone else be wowed by the 14 strikeouts he had against the Braves on Tuesday night, equaling a career high. The one number that impressed him -- the only one that really mattered -- was eight.

That is how many innings Price pitched in leading the Red Sox to an 11-4 victory. That is the number he hopes to put up in countless more outings this season and beyond.

In truth, the only number he likes better is nine.

"I don't care about strikeouts, man," Price said. "That doesn't mean anything to me. I want to go out there and pitch as deep as I can into baseball games. I want to get 27 outs every five days. Twenty-four is good."

Price strikes out 14 in win

So when manager John Farrell gauged how Price was feeling after seven innings and 99 pitches, the lefty never flinched.

"They came down and asked me after the seventh how I felt, and I told them I felt good," Price said. "They asked me again and I told them I felt great. I want to go out there and I want to be able to pitch as deep as I can into baseball games. Twenty-four outs, I like that."

Five starts into his career with the Red Sox, Price hopes he is ready to provide the type of start-to-start consistency his career has been marked by.

There were two off outings on the first homestand, when the lefty squandered leads of 3-0 and 5-1 and the Red Sox lost both games. Those performances sat in his stomach like sour milk.

"I needed it," Price said of Tuesday night's start. "To go out there and to throw the baseball the way I'm capable of throwing it, everybody needs that."

The one time the Braves had some hope on Tuesday was in the bottom of the first, when they sent seven batters to the plate and scratched across one run. From there, Price was pretty much untouchable.

"His command was impeccable," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He dominated the inside part of the plate against our right-handed hitters late in the game. We had a chance to get him early in the game and we didn't. Then he got stronger and better as the game progressed."

Eight of Price's final nine outs came via the punchout. He threw 114 pitches, 78 of them for strikes.

"That's as crisp and as sharp as we've seen David this year," said Farrell. "He was powerful. He had a full assortment of pitches, and when he's had that two-seam fastball running back to catch the inside corner against some right-handers, his delivery is locked in. We staked him to an early lead, and he was outstanding tonight."

Not only did Price give the bullpen a rest, but he also gave his defense a fairly easy night.

"Well, yeah, once it got to the middle innings, it was fun," said Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw. "It seemed like he was striking everybody out at that time. That's nice."

Price will take the ball next for the Red Sox on Sunday night at Fenway Park against the Yankees.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.