BOSTON -- The two things that have haunted David Price the most in recent years -- his inability to perform well in postseason starts and his epic struggles against the Yankees -- were right there in front of him on Saturday night at Fenway Park.The lefty had a chance to
BOSTON -- The two things that have haunted David Price the most in recent years -- his inability to perform well in postseason starts and his epic struggles against the Yankees -- were right there in front of him on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
The lefty had a chance to overcome his two obstacles at the same time. Instead, they both came back to bite him again at the most inopportune time.
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Price was the victim of a shockingly early knockout (1 2/3 innings) and the Red Sox suffered a 6-2 loss that deadlocked the American League Division Series between the rivals at 1-1.
"It's tough," said Price. "You know, just after we won Game 1 to go out there and have that opportunity to go up 2-0, and to throw the baseball the way that I did, it was definitely tough."
When the night started, the pressure was on the Yankees. Without question, it has switched to the Red Sox, who will go into a hostile environment at Yankee Stadium needing to win one out of two games to make sure they play another game at Fenway Park this season.
In the history of five-game series with the 2-2-1 format, when the first two games are split, the club heading home for Games 3 and 4 has gone on to take the series 21 of 33 times (64 percent).
"I think you know it's a series that's capable of going the distance," said Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. "I don't think you expect to sweep. You've got two great teams here, it's a best-of-five. It's going to be fun."
But Saturday wasn't fun for anyone on the Red Sox, particularly not Price. The night couldn't have gone much worse for the veteran. After giving up a mammoth solo shot to center by Aaron Judge (113.3-mph exit velocity, projected distance of 445 feet) in the top of the first, Price opened the second inning by giving up a shot to left by Gary Sanchez. If you haven't noticed, Sanchez has been devastating against Price, taking him deep six times in 14 career at-bats.
The killer for Price was when he walked Nos. 8-9 hitters Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner with two outs. Andrew McCutchen followed by ripping an RBI single off the Monster to make it 3-0. At that point, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had seen enough and went to his bullpen with two outs in the second inning.
"It's the playoffs. You see it happen all the time, especially over the past couple of years," Price said. "Managers go into bullpens extremely early. If I don't like it, I need to pitch better, period."
The early exit could make Price available out of the bullpen later in the series. In fact, Price said he could go as early as Game 3.
"I just want to win. That's it. My main goal is to win in the playoffs, to win a World Series," said Price. "Whatever I have to do to help us do that, I'm fine with."
In his 10 career postseason starts, Price is 0-9 with a 6.03 ERA. Since joining the Red Sox in 2016, Price is 2-8 with a 7.95 ERA in 12 starts (regular season and postseason) against the Yankees.
Price remained one of three pitchers in history with at least nine postseason starts and zero wins. The others are Dwight Gooden (0-4 in nine starts) and Al Leiter (0-3 in 11 starts).
Give Price credit for this: He made no excuses and expressed confidence that he will turn his October struggles around.
"I know I'm more than capable of winning games as a starter in October. That's what I look forward to doing," Price said.
While Price was hit hard from the outset, Masahiro Tanaka came up big for the Yankees, allowing three hits and a run (a homer by Xander Bogaerts) over five innings.
Unlike in Game 1, the Red Sox's bullpen came through until the seventh, when Eduardo Rodriguez served up a three-run homer to Sanchez that was even more impressive (114.8-mph exit velocity, projected distance of 479 feet) than the missile by Judge. Just like that, the Red Sox were down, 6-1.
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And now they head to the Bronx on a mission to at least get a split to make sure this series returns to Boston for a winner-take-all, Game 5.
"It's not going to be easy this time of the year," said Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland. "Everybody's a good team and you know it's going to be a battle. Our goal is to win 11 at the end. It goes different routes sometimes, but we're still in a good spot."
As for Price, perhaps he will get his chance for redemption before this series even ends.
"He pitched great the second half and down the stretch," said Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez. "He's a huge piece of our success and why we're here. I still have confidence, I think everybody has confidence in David. It's one of those things where he made a couple mistakes and that was that, really."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
E-Rod can't get to first: In the top of the seventh, when the game was still tight, Judge hit a grounder to the right side. Moreland fielded it and looked to feed Rodriguez, but the lefty was late getting to the bag.
"Yeah, I'm going to talk to him about it. It seems like he went for the ball and then he slowed down," Cora said. "I haven't talked to him about that play."
Moreland pulls up lame: Moreland scored all the way from first on a double off the Green Monster by Ian Kinsler in the seventh, but he tweaked his right hamstring and was replaced in the eighth by Steve Pearce. If Moreland doesn't recover in time for Game 3, Pearce or Brock Holt could get the start at first.
"When I rounded between third and home, felt it grab a little bit. I came out and we'll see how it feels tomorrow," said Moreland. "I felt it grab a little bit."
Will he be ready for Game 3?
"I'm hoping so," Moreland said. "Hopefully we caught it early enough and see how it feels tomorrow."
Five runs continues to be the magical formula for the Red Sox. By scoring two runs in Game 2, the Sox slipped to 28-43 this season when they score less than five, and 8-25 when they score two or less.
HE SAID IT
"I mean, we lost one game. You know what I mean? The battle has been back and forth. I don't think anyone thought we were going to come in here and sweep really. If you look at the records, what are we about even? Wins and losses versus them? So you know it's going to be a battle." -- Martinez, after the Red Sox slipped to 11-10 against the Yankees this season, including the regular season
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the seventh, Giancarlo Stanton spun a grounder to Eduardo Nunez, who made a throw that Kinsler had to lunge for at second base. Originally, Luke Voit was ruled safe at second. But Cora issued a challenge, and the replay showed that Kinsler got enough of the bag for the force. It wound up not making a difference when Sanchez followed by mashing that three-run homer against E-Rod.
The pressure will be on a right-hander when the series shifts to the Bronx for Game 3 on Tuesday night. Rick Porcello was the scheduled Game 3 starter when the series started, but he was needed for two outs in the bullpen in Game 1. Cora said there's a chance Nate Eovaldi will make the start instead. Both righties have been terrific against the Yankees this season. Porcello (17-7, 4.28 ERA) is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four starts. Eovaldi has pitched 16 consecutive scoreless innings against the Yankees since joining Boston in July. The Yankees counter with ace Luis Severino, who earned the win against Oakland in the Wild Card Game.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.