BOSTON -- The champagne bottles hadn't even been uncorked yet on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when Red Sox manager Alex Cora found David Price and told him he was pitching Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.Considering Price's postseason woes had continued just a few days earlier when
BOSTON -- The champagne bottles hadn't even been uncorked yet on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when Red Sox manager Alex Cora found David Price and told him he was pitching Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
Considering Price's postseason woes had continued just a few days earlier when he recorded just five outs against the Yankees in the AL Division Series, this was exactly what the lefty needed to hear.
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So even if history is against Price -- 0-9, 6.03 ERA in 10 postseason starts -- confidence will be on his side when he takes the mound even though the Red Sox trail the best-of-seven series 1-0.
For that, Price appreciates what Cora did.
"It's good. I did expect to make more starts for us in this year's playoffs. But Alex told me before we even got off the field that night," Price said. "So for him to tell me before we even took our jerseys off to put on our postseason shirts that we get when we win, that was special."
In his quest for that elusive first win as a starter in the postseason, Price will face a team he's fared well against throughout his career, going 6-2 with a 2.69 ERA and holding Houston to a .587 OPS.
Still, the Astros have a dangerous lineup and Price has an eye on a few in particular he needs to stop.
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"[Alex] Bregman. He does a lot for that offense. And then [George] Springer sets the tone really well. Those two guys," said Price. "And I mean, obviously you can't look over anybody in their lineup -- [Jose] Altuve obviously, he's last year's MVP; [Carlos] Correa. They've got a very powerful lineup and you've got to focus on all nine."
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Price isn't worried about rust, even though he's pitched just 1 2/3 innings since Sept. 27. How has he maintained his crispness?
"Just playing catch," Price said. "Playing catch by the way that you pitch. Playing catch with [bullpen catcher Mike] Brenly every day. He gets down [like a catcher] -- just still at 60 feet, just playing catch to somebody that's down still kind of emulates that. So I don't think I'll be rusty."
Though Price has been impacted by circulation issues in his hands at times this season, he's not worried about the October chill that will be present at Fenway on Sunday. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s.
"Just try and stay warm before," said Price. "For the game, make sure you've got a good lather going. Don't get too much because whenever you step outside it can probably work the opposite direction. But just get loose and get warm inside and just carry that onto the field."
Cora now admits that Mitch Moreland wasn't available for the final two games of the ALDS in New York thanks to the right hamstring injury he sustained in Game 2. Prior to Games 3 and 4, Cora had joked about getting Moreland ready for a Kirk Gibson-type pinch-hitting moment.
But he now truly is available, even if just in a bench role for now.
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"He can pinch-hit, and he can play defense," Cora said. "He ran yesterday, he hit a lot better [in batting practice] than in New York. We'll use him later on in the game if needed."
Moreland came off the bench in the fifth inning, pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon with the bases loaded against Justin Verlander. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Moreland took four straight balls to bring home Boston's first run of the game.
Cora thinks Moreland could be ready to start at some point in this series.
Why Nunez over Devers?
When the Red Sox last faced a righty starter in Game 3 of the ALDS, Rafael Devers played third base and Eduardo Nunez was not in the lineup. In Game 1 against Justin Verlander, Nunez got the nod. Why?
"The matchup. [Verlander is] a guy that attacks the upper part of the strike zone, and he's relentless with it. I felt like the matchup for Raffy to start the game wasn't a good one," Cora said. "He matches up well against their bullpen. I talked to him already, just be ready, because [Joe] Smith and [Roberto] Osuna and [Ryan] Pressly are actually good matchups for him. He'll be a big part of the series."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.