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Price's struggles continue in blowout loss

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

ARLINGTON -- David Price's dominant first two starts to the season felt like a distant memory by the time the lefty was removed in the middle of another tough performance on Thursday night with the fourth inning still in progress.

Price threw 86 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings as the Red Sox took an 11-5 loss to the Rangers in the opener of a four-game series, and a 10-game road trip.

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ARLINGTON -- David Price's dominant first two starts to the season felt like a distant memory by the time the lefty was removed in the middle of another tough performance on Thursday night with the fourth inning still in progress.

Price threw 86 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings as the Red Sox took an 11-5 loss to the Rangers in the opener of a four-game series, and a 10-game road trip.

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Not even another homer by Mookie Betts -- who has four in the last two games and leads the Majors with 12 -- could give Boston the lift it needed in this one. The star right fielder added a two-run double and had a four-RBI night.

Video: BOS@TEX: Betts plates 2 with a double to left field

After opening 2018 with two dazzling performances (two Red Sox wins, zero earned runs in 14 innings), Price is 1-4 with an 8.22 ERA in his past five starts.

What is the biggest issue?

"Command," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It seems like there's no separation in his pitches right now. If you're a hitter, you look for something in the range of 90, 91 and pick a side of the plate and go from there. He has to make adjustments, obviously. The stuff, you see the radar gun, it was there, but I do feel we need to make an adjustment."

Video: BOS@TEX: Vazquez plates Devers with a bloop single

There is data to support Cora's theory. The average radar readings for Price's pitches in Thursday's start were as follows: Two seamer, 92.2 mph; Cutter, 88 mph; Four seamer, 92.1 mph; Changeup, 86.4 mph.

"I haven't seen the velos on it, that could be," Price said. "That could be the case. Guys are still out front. It could be a couple miles per hour here or there that could turn into that swing and miss. Keep working and be ready to go my next start."

Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast reviews Price's rough outing

Price didn't throw any curves on Thursday.

"That's a pitch that he rarely uses. He uses it to steal strikes with it," said Cora. "Maybe that's something we should add to his outings, at least change of pace, something that throws them off. Just like [Rick] Porcello, he doesn't throw his a lot, but when he does, it's to get a free strike.

"We'll work on it and check in the percentages and where we're at and make adjustments just like we did with Drew [Pomeranz], just like we do with everybody else. Take a look at it and make adjustments."

Though Thursday's outing, in which Price allowed nine runs (seven earned), was clearly his low point, it was part of a concerning trend in which he's given up four runs or more in four of his last five starts.

"Four out of my first five, with the exception of the Yankees game, I felt like I commanded the baseball really well on both sides of the plate with the fastball, cutter and changeup -- that was what I did really well," Price said. "And in my last two starts, I have not commanded the baseball the way that I did in my four out of those first five. That's something I take a lot of pride in doing and I haven't done that in my last couple and I expect it to be there my next start."

With the loss, the 22-9 Red Sox saw their lead in the American League East over the 21-10  Yankees slimmed to one game.

Video: BOS@TEX: Martinez robs Nunez with a running grab

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the bottom of the second, when Renato Nunez crushed one to deep left, it looked like trouble for the Red Sox. But J.D. Martinez was off at the crack of the bat and made a tremendous, lunging catch as he banged into the wall. According to Statcast™, it's the first five-star catch of Martinez's career. There was 21 percent catch probability on the play, and Martinez needed to cover 94 feet in 5.1 seconds.

HE SAID IT
"Just playing catch. Aim small, miss small. Just lock it in every time you have that baseball in your hand. This is always a game of adjustments, and I've got to make a couple of adjustments." -- Price, on how to incorporate the adjustments he needs

Video: BOS@TEX: Nunez safe at second after challenge in 4th

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
After Rafael Devers led off the fourth with a single to right, Eduardo Nunez grounded a hit up the middle. DeShields charged the ball hard in center, but he misplayed it, letting the ball get behind him. Devers went to third easily while Nunez was thrown out trying for second. But Cora challenged the call and it was overturned as the replay official determined second baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa missed the tag. Nunez ended up scoring in the two-run inning.

UP NEXT
Rick Porcello will try to continue his red-hot start to the season when he pitches Friday night's 8:05 ET game against the Rangers. The righty has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all six of his starts and has gone fewer than six innings just once. Veteran Bartolo Colon will get the ball for the Rangers.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts, David Price, Hector Velazquez