Strong outing 'not good enough' for Price
Ace keeps Blue Jays in must-win Game 6 after pair of early HRs
KANSAS CITY -- It was a question David Price has probably heard after nearly every outing of his career. The Blue Jays starter was asked simply to sum up his performance on the mound on Friday night, when Toronto needed a win to stave off a long winter of what ifs.
"I didn't pitch good enough to win," Price said after a taking a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to the Royals in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, a defeat that pushed Kansas City through to the World Series and halted Toronto's season with a thud.
After those seven succinct words, no more questions followed. The camera lights turned off, reporters put down their notepads and Price broke through the crowd and walked to his locker to pack up his belongings. While the near future of the Blue Jays appears bright, that may have been the final sentence uttered by Price as a member of the ballclub.
If Friday's performance was Price's last with the Blue Jays -- he will be eligible for free agency and a blockbuster payday this winter -- the left-hander went out with an admirable effort. No, as he stated so matter-of-factly, Price did not pitch well enough to win. He did, however, pitch well enough to put the Blue Jays in a position to win.
Price will enter this winter with an 0-7 record in eight career postseason starts -- a ledger that defies logic in light of his regular-season prowess. In his final outing of 2015, the lanky lefty limited Kansas City to three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Price struck out eight and walked one, and only yielded two runs (each on a homer) -- the third scored after he gave way to reliever Aaron Sanchez.
"I hope that quiets some things down for David, what he's been through this postseason," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He stepped up tonight, he really did. A couple solo home runs early, and he was really as good as we've seen him. He kept us right there, gave us a shot."
There was a 1-1 cutter in the first inning that tailed inside at 91 mph to Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist, who pulled in his hands, stayed inside the pitch and yanked the ball over the wall in left for a homer. There was then a 1-2 changeup in the second to Mike Moustakas, who knocked it to deep right-center, where a fan caught it at the lip of the padded wall.
After a brief replay review, Moustakas' shot stood as a homer, putting Toronto behind, 2-0.
"They took it to New York," Gibbons said of the umpires. "They did the right thing. We appreciate that."
After Price's exit, Sanchez allowed an RBI single to Alex Rios, scoring Moustakas to tack one more run on the starter's line. Price was in line to drop to 0-8 in his career as a starter in the postseason, but Jose Bautista helped the pitcher escape with a no-decision with a game-tying, two-run home run in the eighth inning.
Bautista hopes to have Price back in the fold next year for another postseason run.
"If anybody around the league tells you that they don't want David Price on your team," Bautista said, "you better have them checked with a psychologist or a psychiatrist. There has to be something wrong with them. He did great, during the regular season and in the playoffs. He gave us a chance to win ballgames, and that's what he does. Of course I want him back."
Catcher Russell Martin echoed that sentiment.
"Who wouldn't want to have him?" Martin agreed. "He's an ace, and an even better teammate. He's definitely a guy you want to keep on your team."
During the regular season, Price won 18 games, fashioned a 2.45 ERA and piled up 225 strikeouts in 220 1/3 innings across 32 starts. After being acquired from the Tigers at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the left-hander went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 turns for Toronto, helping the Blue Jays to their first AL East crown since the club won it all in 1993.
Price could very well join Pat Hentgen, Roger Clemens and Roy Halladay as the only AL Cy Young Award winners in franchise history. Of course, that November announcement could come while Price's representatives are working on finding a lucrative contract for their star client.
Asked if he will be back with the Blue Jays, Price shrugged.
"I don't know yet," he replied.
Would he like to be back?
"Absolutely," Price said.
In the immediate aftermath of Toronto's final act -- one requiring only two more wins to reach the World Series -- Price hardly had thought about his future.
"This isn't something that crosses my mind," he said. "I don't know when free agency starts. It's not something I've thought about. I haven't thought about it all year long. If I would've thought about that, I wouldn't have thrown the baseball the way I have all year long. I don't think about that."
Really, Price only had one thing on his mind in this moment.
"We didn't win," Price said.