BOSTON — As far as two-hitters go, the one David Price threw Monday night might rank a bit lower than expected.
The Boston Red Sox left-hander had somewhat of a strange — albeit very successful — outing against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. For the most part, the results were positive: He mowed down one of the most fearsome lineups in baseball, allowing just two hits over eight innings while striking out nine and walking no one. He earned his seventh consecutive victory, marking a new career-long streak, in Boston’s 12-2 blowout win.
But the Orioles made those two runs count. In the top of the second inning, first baseman Chris Davis blasted a 407-foot shot to center field. In the fourth, third baseman Manny Machado topped his teammate, launching a 421-foot bomb onto Landsdowne Street in left field.
It’s pretty rare when a pitcher’s only two hits allowed are home runs, and big ones at that. But weirdly enough, Price has had this kind of outing before — just over eight years ago, in fact. And almost more weirdly, he remembers it like it was yesterday.
“Yeah, my last start in Double-A,” Price recalled after the game. “We were in Huntsville (playing the Double-A Stars). It was when I was in Tampa playing for the (Montgomery) Biscuits. I gave up two hits, and they were both solo homers. They were hit very hard.”
A quick glance at Price’s line from that July 28, 2008 game reveals an eerily similar stat line: eight innings, two runs, two hits (both homers), seven strikeouts and no walks. The final score: 9-2.
If this was déjà vu all over again for Price, he certainly didn’t seem to mind. Long balls aside, the former Cy Young Award winner appears to be finding his groove at just the right time, with a 2.16 ERA over his last seven starts.
“Execution,” Price said when asked about the key to his recent success. “Just sticking with it. That’s what it is.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Orioles:
— Mookie Betts made another play Monday that reminded everyone why he’s a candidate for MVP in the American League. And if you ask Price, Betts deserves the award — not that he’s biased, of course.
“That’s just a heads-up play,” Price said. “Mookie’s my MVP.”
— The Red Sox made a rotation change during their recent road trip to keep Price on five days’ rest, and it appears that was a strategic one.
The left-hander now is set up to start Game No. 162 against the Toronto Blue Jays, which manager John Farrell confirmed he’ll do before Monday’s game. That could open the door for Rick Porcello to start the first game of the postseason, if necessary.
— Andrew Benintendi is expected to return this week, but Chris Young is playing like a man who wants to keep his job. The Red Sox left fielder fell a triple short of the cycle in a 4-for-4 effort and now has three home runs over a 9-for-16 tear in his last five games.
“We’re looking at a guy with a long, productive major league career,” Farrell said of Young. “Yeah, over the course of his career, he’s been more productive against left-handers, but he’s gotten more comfortable against right-handers. His swing is ideal for this ballpark, two primary reasons why he was signed here.”
— Plenty of runs were scored Monday night, and along with those runs came plenty of milestones. Here are the two most impressive:
— Steven Wright still is recovering from a right shoulder injury, and judging by Farrell’s comments before Monday’s game, it doesn’t sound like the knuckleballer is returning to the rotation in the near future.
“We’re hopeful to get a throwing program initiated,” Farrell said. “I don’t have an exact date when that will take place. He’s showing improvement through the range of motion. The discomfort is diminishing. I also recognize where we are in the calendar, and that’s going to present a challenge here going forward.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images