Left-hander thwarts rally during 2 2/3 scoreless innings
By Maria Guardado
HOUSTON -- Success in the postseason has proved elusive for David Price as a starter, but the Red Sox left-hander made his mark out of the bullpen on Friday afternoon, firing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Boston's 8-2 loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan at Minute Maid Park.
With the Astros threatening to extend their 4-1 lead in the third, Price was summoned to face Yuli Gurriel with the bases loaded and one out. Price managed to navigate through the tough spot, inducing a pair of popouts from Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez to end the inning. Price then returned to post two more clean innings, limiting Houston's relentless offense to a double and an intentional walk while striking out two in the 38-pitch effort.
Price's dominant performance kept the Red Sox close through the middle innings, but the Astros ultimately broke the game open with a four-run sixth, taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS.
Though the Red Sox will now return to Boston on the verge of elimination, manager John Farrell said he expects Price to remain in the bullpen for Game 3 today and will likely be available to pitch if needed. Veteran right-hander Doug Fister, who was claimed off waivers in June, will get the start at Fenway Park with the Red Sox's season on the line.
"I think that what we're seeing is 40 pitches is about the comfort zone which he's been built out at," Farrell said of Price. "He's throwing the ball very well. He comes in with his back against the wall in a key spot, gets two big outs to end the threat. He's throwing the ball very, very well. Cutter to both sides of the plate, has shown a feel for a changeup, full assortment of pitches that he typically has. He's done a very good job."
Elbow trouble limited Price to only 11 starts in 2017, the second season of a seven-year, $217 million deal he signed with Boston in December 2015. When he returned from the disabled list in September, the Red Sox announced that he would be used out of the bullpen for the rest of the year, as there wasn't enough time left in the season to lengthen him out as a starter.
But Price, 32, has thrived since transitioning into a multi-inning reliever and has helped fill a void by bridging the gap between the Red Sox's starters and the back-end of their bullpen. In six relief outings this season, including Friday's, Price has worked 11 1/3 scoreless innings with three walks and 15 strikeouts. Opposing batters have gone just 4-for-40 against him over that span.
"Price has been great," said left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who gave up four runs over two-plus innings on Friday. "Every time he's come in out of the bullpen this year, he's completely shut the other team down. He's a huge weapon for us over there."
It's not the first time Price has starred out of the bullpen in the postseason. In 2008, just one year after he was drafted out of Vanderbilt with the No. 1 overall pick, the Rays called up Price and deployed him as a relief ace in the playoffs, where he logged a 1.59 ERA in five appearances and helped Tampa Bay reach its first World Series.
By contrast, Price, who did not speak to reporters after Friday's loss, is 0-8 with a 5.74 ERA in eight career playoff starts, a track record he will likely be unable to improve this October.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.