Price seeks redemption in 10th playoff start

October 5th, 2018

BOSTON -- In case you haven't heard, has never won a postseason start in his otherwise illustrious career.

The lefty, who can change that narrative with a big performance in Saturday's Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees, disarmed the media by having some fun at his news conference on Friday.

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When the session started, Price came out slinging cliches regarding his past postseason failures. At one point, he noted that he can't treat it differently than any other game he's pitched in his career.

After that statement, Price was asked if he had treated his previous postseason starts differently, and maybe that's why he had trouble. And that was when he displayed his lighter side.

"No, I just don't have an answer for you guys," said Price. "I've been asked that quite a while now. I can't really put my finger on it. That was my generic answer."

Fair enough. It is the topic that won't go away, which is why Game 2 presents Price with such a prized opportunity.

In nine career postseason starts, Price is 0-8 with a 5.74 ERA. Interestingly, he has often come up big in the bullpen in October, going 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in eight outings.

But unlike last year, when Price was coming off an injury and he was used exclusively as a reliever in Boston's four-game ALDS loss to Houston, he is back in his preferred role.

When Price takes the ball Saturday, it will mark just his second playoff start for the Red Sox, and first since Oct. 7, 2016, when the Indians hit him hard (six hits, five runs, 3 1/3 innings) to pin Boston in a 2-0 series hole en route to an ALDS sweep.

In other words, it's been a long wait for Price to get another chance.

"Yeah. It's been 300-something games, however long it's been," Price said. "It has been a while. I look forward to getting back to that point, going out there and starting a baseball game and giving us a chance to win."

If Price did squeeze the ball too tight in some previous October encounters, he feels he has another influence in his life these days that takes the edge off and helps him to tune out all the external hype. That would be in the form of his 17-month-old son Xavier, who wasn't around the last time Price started a postseason game.

"I've got a son now, he manages my time. I don't really have a schedule; it's whatever he feels like doing, we do," said Price. "So managing my time and what I hear and what I see and all that, that's easy."

Healthy again, Xavier's father has been a force for the Red Sox, particularly down the stretch.

From July 12 through the end of the regular season, Price was 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and a .204 opponents' batting average in 12 starts.

"That's a guy I trust. We saw him pitching the second part of the season. He was probably the second best lefty in the league after [Blake] Snell," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "The way he went about his business, he pitched against the Yankees, he pitched against the Astros, he pitched against the Indians; he did a good job."

Price's struggles against the Yankees both this season (0-3, 10.34 ERA) and since he joined the Red Sox (2-7, 7.71 ERA) have been well-chronicled. At Fenway, however, his troubles haven't been nearly as pronounced. In fact, his last start in Boston against the Yankees was a good one back on Aug. 5, when he allowed four hits and two runs over six innings and left with a lead.

The fact that the Red Sox and Yankees are playing in October for the first time since 2004 is something that Price relishes being a part of.

"That's what we're thinking about in November and December when you're working out and getting ready for Spring Training," said Price. "You're going through Spring Training and waking up early and having 1 p.m. games every day. Going through all that, and then playing 162 games to get to this point. It is a very good feeling, but we want to have a better feeling at the end of the year."

And there is nobody more eager to have a better finish to the season than Price.