CLEVELAND -- David Price arrived in Boston prepared with a memorable quote to explain his past Octobers, quipping that he "was just saving all my postseason wins for the Red Sox."
That statement drew laughter at the time, but with his club now trailing by a game in the best-of-five American League Division Series, there is even more pressure on Price to prove that he meant what was said on that December afternoon at Fenway Park.
Price will take the ball for Game 2 on Friday (4:30 p.m. ET on TBS) against the Indians at Progressive Field after the Red Sox dropped Game 1, 5-4, on Thursday. Price has appeared in six postseasons with three teams, but has yet to earn a victory as a starting pitcher.
For all the postseason frustrations of Price, he's 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA for his career against Cleveland, and 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in seven starts at Progressive Field.
"I take the mound, I want us to win. And [Friday] I want to go out there and win," Price said. "I want to be dominant. I want to have that really good postseason game, and I know that I'm capable of doing that and I'm excited to pitch [Friday]."
Price described his first year in Boston as "inconsistent," having gone 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA while leading the Majors with 230 innings. He refused to blame the pressure of living up to a seven-year, $217 million contract; rather, Price said it simply took time to rebound from a slow opening act in which he gave up five or more runs in five of his first 16 starts.
"Stopping the runners from crossing home plate; that's the name of the game," Price said. "I love having the innings, strikeouts are big in certain spots, but my WHIP [1.204] was way too high. And my ERA, as well. I know that I'm a lot better than what I did this year. And this is a new season right now. So I want to start that new chapter."
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that despite some of the statistics, he considers Price's first season in Boston to have been a success.
"He's had a very good year for us," Farrell said. "He has been a dependable starter for us. There's been some games where, because of command, it didn't play out as maybe we had hoped. But when you consider the body of work and how he's been a very dependable guy standing on the mound every five days, he's been a very good starter for us."
Price hopes that being draped in a Boston uniform will change the tone of his October tale, as the 31-year-old has gone 0-7 with 5.27 ERA in eight postseason starts; surprising results given his status as a five-time All-Star and a former AL Cy Young Award winner.
There have been highlights, though: Price was dominant out of the bullpen against Boston in the 2008 AL Championship Series and hurled a complete game in the Rays' 2013 AL Wild Card tiebreaker win over the Rangers. Last year, during an otherwise rough postseason, he picked up an ALDS win in relief. He's 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in six playoff relief appearances.
"Getting to know him over the course of this year, I don't know that he puts a whole lot of stock in what has happened or the anticipation of what lies ahead," Farrell said. "He's really good at staying on task and what's needed today."
The biggest key, Price said, will be spotting his four-seam and two-seam fastball early to both sides of home plate, increasing the effectiveness of his cutter, curveball and changeup. If all goes according to plan, the end result should be that elusive first postseason "W" as a starter.
"You can't try and do too much. You have to understand that what you bring to the table is good enough," Price said. "And you have to be one of those pieces to that puzzle. You can't be the whole picture. And that's something I need to do [Friday] is just do my part. I know my team is going to be there for me."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.